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The Yellow Dwarf - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

 Read "The Yellow Dwarf" fairy tale for all children. "The Yellow Dwarf" story, is a bedtime Story for kids written by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy about a queen who remained a widow, but with a beautiful girl like no other on earth. The queen loved her very much and began to tell her that she was the most beautiful princess in the world and that there was no one close to her perfection. The princess liked to hear these words and soon began to become very proud and to despise everyone. The queen named her Toutebelle and encouraged her behavior. One day, the queen sent the portrait of the princess to all the kings she knew, and so many kings came to the royal court to betray the princess. Although she received many gifts from them, the princess did not accept anyone to be her husband, considering that they were all below her level.

"The Yellow Dwarf"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy


Once upon a time there was a Queen who had only one daughter left out of a very large family, but that one was worth a thousand. Finding herself a widow, and having nothing in the world so dear to her as the young Princess, she was so much afraid of losing her that she never corrected any of her faults; so that this marvellous creature, perceiving that her beauty was celestial rather than mortal, and knowing that she was born to a crown, became so proud and so vain of her nascent charms that she despised everybody.

The Queen, her mother, by her caresses and her indulgence, confirmed her in the belief that there was nothing in the world which could be worthy of her. She appeared nearly always dressed as Pallas or Diana, followed by the principal ladies of the court attired as nymphs; and finally, to pamper her vanity to the utmost, the Queen gave her the name of Toutebelle; and having had her portrait painted by the best artists, sent it to several kings, with whom she was in strict alliance. As soon as they saw this portrait, every one, without an exception, yielded to the inevitable power of her charms. Some fell ill, others lost their wits, and those who were fortunate enough to preserve their health and senses hastened to her court. But no sooner did they behold the fair original, than the poor princes became her devoted slaves.

There never was a court more gallant and polite. Twenty kings vied with each other in their endeavours to please the Princess; and after having spent three or four hundred millions of francs upon a single entertainment, would feel more than repaid if they could only draw from her an admission that "It was pretty."

​The worship that was paid to her delighted the Queen. Not a day passed that the Princess did not receive seven or eight thousand sonnets, as many odes, madrigals, and songs, which were sent by all the poets in the universe. Toutebelle was the sole theme of all the prose and verse written by the authors of her time. All the bonfires were made with these compositions, which sparkled and burned better than any other sort of fuel. The Princess had already reached the age of fifteen. Nobody ventured to pretend to the honour of being her husband, though everybody desired it: but how was it possible to touch a heart of that description?—you might have hanged yourself five or six times a-day to please her, and she would have thought it a mere trifle. Her lovers complained bitterly of her cruelty, and her mother, who wished her to be married, saw no means of inducing her to decide in favour of one of them. "Will you not," said she sometimes to her, "abate a little of that insupportable pride which causes you to look with disdain upon all the kings who visit our court? I wish to give you one for a husband:—have you no desire to please me?" "I am so happy," replied Toutebelle. "Pray, permit me, Madam, to enjoy my peaceful indifference. If I were once to lose it, you might be very sorry." "Yes," said the Queen, "I should be sorry if you loved any one beneath you; but look at those who sigh for you, and admit that there are none to be found more worthy."

It was quite true, but the Princess had such an opinion of her own perfections that she considered herself worth some one better still; and after some time, her obstinate determination to remain single so distressed her mother, that she repented, but too late, her extreme indulgence. Not knowing what she ought to do, she went by herself to consult a celebrated Fairy called the Fairy of the Desert: but it was not easy to see her, for she was guarded by lions. The Queen would have had little chance if she had not been for a long time aware that it was necessary to throw to these beasts some cake made of millet-seed, sugar-candy, and crocodiles' eggs. She had made one of these cakes herself, and put it into a little hand-basket. As she was tired with walking so far, not being accustomed to it, she laid down at the foot of a tree to take a little rest. Insensibly she fell asleep, but on re-awaking she found her basket empty. The cake was gone! and to ​complete the misfortune, she heard the great lions coming, roaring tremendously, for they had smelt her.

"Alas, what will become of me!" she exclaimed piteously; "I shall be devoured!" She wept, and not having strength to fly, she clung to the tree under which she had slept. At that moment she heard, "Hist! Hist! A-hem! A-hem!" She looked all about her, and raising her eyes, she saw up in the tree a little man not above a cubit in height. He was eating oranges, and said to her, "Oh! I know you well, Queen, and I know the fear you are in that the lions will devour you; and not without reason are you alarmed, for they have devoured many before you, and to complete your misfortune you have no cake."

"I must submit to die!" said the Queen, sighing. "Alas, I should do so with less pain if my dear daughter were but married!" "How? you have a daughter!" exclaimed the Yellow Dwarf. (He was so called from the colour of his skin, and his living in an orange-tree.) "Truly, I am delighted to hear it, for I have sought a wife by land and sea. Look now, if you will promise her to me, I will save you from lions, tigers, or bears." The Queen looked at him, and she was scarcely less frightened at his horrible little figure than she was at the lions. She mused, and made no answer. "What! do you hesitate, Madam?" cried he. "You cannot be very fond of life." At the same moment the Queen perceived the lions on the brow of a hill running towards her. Each had two heads, eight feet, four rows of teeth, and their skin was as hard as shell, and as red as morocco. At this sight, the poor Queen, trembling more than a dove at the view of a falcon, cried out with all her might—"My Lord Dwarf! Toutebelle is yours." "Oh!" said he, with a disdainful air, "Toutebelle is too much of a belle;[1] I will have none of her. You may keep her." "Ah, my Lord," continued the afflicted Queen, "do not refuse her!—she is the most charming Princess in the world!" "Well," said he, "out of charity I accept her: but recollect the gift you have made me!" The trunk of the orange-tree, in which he was seated, immediately opened. The Queen rushed headlong into it; it closed, and the lions were balked of their prey.

The Queen was so agitated that she did not notice a door ​constructed in the tree. At length she perceived it, and opened it: it opened on a field of nettles and thistles surrounded by a muddy ditch. At a little distance stood a very low-roofed cottage, thatched with straw,—the Yellow Dwarf came out of it with a mirthful air. He wore wooden shoes, and a jacket of coarse yellow cloth; had large ears, and no hair, and looked like a thorough little villain. "I am delighted, my Lady Mother-in-law," said he, "to show you the little château in which your Toutebelle will reside with me. She may keep an ass upon these nettles and thistles to ride about on. This rustic roof will shelter her from the inclemency of the weather; she will drink this water and eat some of the frogs that fatten in it; and she will have me day and night beside her, handsome, gay, and gallant, as you see me, for I should be very sorry if her shadow followed her closer than I."

The unfortunate Queen, suddenly struck by the wretched life the Dwarf had allotted to her dear daughter, and being unable to support so terrible a picture, dropped insensible to the ground without being able to utter a word in reply to him: but while she was in this state she was transported to the Palace, placed in her own bed, very neatly, with the finest night-caps and the handsomest fontange that she had ever worn in her life. The Queen awoke and recollected what had befallen her. She wouldn't believe it was true; for finding herself in her Palace, amidst her ladies, and her daughter by her side, there was little to show that she had been in the Desert, that she had encountered such great dangers, and that the Dwarf had saved and preserved her from them on so hard a condition as the gift to him of Toutebelle. Nevertheless, the rare lace of the cap, and the beauty of the riband, astonished her as much as the dream she presumed she had had, and in the excess of her anxiety she fell into a melancholy, so extraordinary, that she could scarcely speak, eat, or sleep. The Princess, who loved her mother with all her heart, was very uneasy about her. She implored her frequently to say what was the matter with her: but the Queen, seeking for pretexts, answered sometimes that she was out of health, and at others that one of the neighbouring States threatened to go to war with her.

Toutebelle saw plainly enough that these were plausible reasons, but that there was something else at the bottom of the matter which the Queen studiously concealed from her. Being unable longer to control her anxiety, she resolved to seek out the famous Fairy of the Desert, whose science was so much talked of everywhere. She was also desirous of her advice on the question of marrying or remaining single, for everybody pressed her strongly to choose a husband. She took care to knead the cake herself, which had the power to appease the fury of the lions, and pretending to go to bed early one evening, she went out by a little back staircase, her face covered by a large white veil which came down to her feet; and thus, all alone, took the road to the grotto in which the skilful Fairy resided.

But on arriving at the fatal orange-tree, of which I have already spoken, she found it so covered with fruit and blossoms, that she was seized with an irresistible desire to gather some. She set her basket upon the ground and plucked some oranges, which she ate. When she looked again for her basket and the cake, they had disappeared. She is alarmed, she is distressed, and suddenly she sees beside her the frightful little Dwarf I before described. "What ails you, fair maid? what are you weeping for?" said he. "Alas! who would not weep?" replied she, "I have lost my basket and my cake which were so necessary to insure my safe arrival at the abode of the Desert Fairy."

"Ah! and what would you with her, fair maid?" said the little monkey; "I am her kinsman, her friend, and at least as clever as she is." "The Queen, my mother," replied the Princess, "has lately fallen into an alarming despondency, which causes me to tremble for her life. I fancy I am, perhaps, the cause of it; for she wishes me to marry; and I confess to you that I have not yet seen any one I think worthy of me. It is for this reason I would consult the Fairy." "Don't give yourself that trouble, Princess," said the Dwarf; "I am better fitted than she to enlighten you on such subjects. The Queen, your mother, is sorry that she has promised you in marriage." "The Queen promised me!" cried the Princess, interrupting him. "Oh, you must be mistaken. She would have told me, and I am too much interested in the matter for her to engage me without my ​previous consent." "Beautiful Princess," said the Dwarf, suddenly flinging himself at her feet, "I flatter myself that her choice will not displease you when I inform you that it is I who am destined to enjoy such happiness." "My mother would have you for her son-in-law!" exclaimed Toutebelle, recoiling some paces; "was there ever any madness like yours?" "I care very little about the honour," said the Dwarf angrily. "Here come the lions, in three bites they will avenge me for your unjust disdain."

At the same moment the poor Princess heard the prolonged roars of the approaching monsters. "What will become of me!" she cried: "must I end my young days thus!" The wicked Dwarf looked at her, and laughing contemptuously said, "You will have at least the glory of dying a maiden, and of having escaped the mésalliance of a person of your dazzling worth with a miserable Dwarf like me." "For mercy's sake be not angry," said the Princess, clasping her beautiful hands, "I would rather marry all the dwarfs in the universe than perish in so frightful a manner." "Look at me well, Princess, before you give me your word," replied he, "for I do not wish to take any advantage of you." "I have looked at you more than enough," said she. "The lions are approaching; my terror increases; save me! save me! or I shall die of fright." In fact, she had scarcely uttered these words before she fainted; and without knowing how she got there, found herself, on recovering from her swoon, in her own bed, in the finest linen in the world, with the most beautiful ribands on her dress, and a little ring made of a single red hair, which fitted her finger so closely that the skin might have been taken off sooner than the ring.

When the Princess saw all these things, and remembered what had taken place that night, she fell into a melancholy which surprised and pained the whole Court. Her mother was more alarmed than anybody, and asked her hundreds of times what was the matter; but the Princess persisted in concealing from her the adventure. At length, the great estates of the kingdom, impatient to see the Princess married, assembled in council, and afterwards proceeded to have an audience of the Queen, whom they petitioned to choose a husband for her daughter as soon as possible. She answered them, that she desired nothing better; but that her daughter ​evinced so much repugnance to marriage, that she advised them to go and talk to the Princess herself upon the subject. They went immediately.

Toutebelle had lost much of her haughtiness since her adventure with the Yellow Dwarf. She saw no better way of getting out of the dilemma, than by marrying some great king with whom the little monkey would not dare to dispute so glorious a prize. She, therefore, returned a more favourable answer than was hoped for; saying, that although she should have esteemed herself happy in remaining single all her life, she consented to marry the King of the Gold Mines, a very powerful and handsome prince, who had loved her passionately for several years, and who up to that moment had never been able to flatter himself that she would make the least return to his affection.

It is easy to imagine the excess of his joy when he received such charming intelligence, and the rage of all his rivals at the utter extinction of the fond hopes they had continued to nourish; but Toutebelle could not marry twenty kings. She had much ado to choose one; for her vanity was as great as ever, and she was still fully persuaded that nobody in the world was a fitting match for her.

Everything was prepared for the celebration of one of the grandest entertainments that had ever been given in the universe. The King of the Gold Mines sent home for such prodigious sums of money that the sea was entirely covered with the ships which returned with them. Agents were despatched to all the most polished and gallant Courts, particularly that of France, to purchase the rarest materials for the wardrobe of the Princess; though she had less need than anybody of ornament to set off her beauty, which was so perfect that it was impossible to add to it; and the King of the Gold Mines, thus upon the eve of happiness, never left the side of his charming Princess.

The obvious importance of becoming acquainted with the character of her future husband, inducing the Princess to study it carefully, she discovered in him so much merit, so much sense, such deep and delicate feeling,—in short, so fine a mind in so perfect a body, that she began to return in some degree his affection. What happy moments were they for both, when, wandering in the most beautiful gardens in ​the world, they found themselves at liberty to express their mutual sentiments. This pleasure was often heightened by the charms of music. The King, always gallant and amorous, sang verses and songs of his own composition to the Princess. The following is one she was much pleased with:—

"The proves, for thee, a richer green put on;
The flowery meads their brightest colours don;
Where'er thy footsteps fall fresh blossoms spring;
Sweeter within thy bowers, the sweet birds sing.
All nature smiles, around, below, above,
All hail the daughter of the God of Love!"

Joy was at its height in the palace. The King's rivals, enraged at his success, had quitted it and returned to their own dominions, overwhelmed with the deepest grief, unable to bear the pain of witnessing Toutebelle's marriage. They had taken their leave of her in so touching a manner that she could not help pitying them. "Ah, Madam," said the King of the Gold Mines to her on that occasion, "what an injustice you have done me to-day; you have blest with your pity, lovers who were more than repaid for their sufferings by one glance from your eyes."

"I should be sorry," replied Toutebelle, "if you witnessed with indifference the compassion I have evinced for those princes who have lost me for ever. It is a proof of your sensibility, for which I am indebted to you. But, my Lord, their position is so different from yours; you have so much reason to be satisfied with my conduct towards you, and they have so little cause to congratulate themselves, that you ought not to carry your jealousy further." The King of the Gold Mines, overcome by the kind manner in which the Princess had received a reproach which might have annoyed her, threw himself at her feet, and kissing her hand, asked her pardon a thousand times over. At length, the day so long waited and wished for arrived. Everything being ready for the marriage of Toutebelle, the trumpets and musical instruments announced throughout the city the commencement of this grand fête. The streets were carpeted and strewed with flowers. The people flocked in crowds to the great square in front of the palace. The Queen, in a state of rapture, had scarcely gone to bed before she got up again, long before daybreak, to give the requisite orders and to select the jewels which the Princess was to wear. She was all diamonds down ​to her very shoes, which were made of them. Her gown of silver brocade was striped with a dozen rays of the sun, which had been bought at an enormous price; but which also could not be surpassed in brilliancy except by the beauty of the Princess. A magnificent crown adorned her head, her hair falling in wavy curls to her feet, and her majestic form distinguished her amongst the crowd of ladies who accompanied her.

The King of the Gold Mines was not less perfect or less magnificent in his appearance. His happiness was visible in all his looks and actions. No one accosted him who did not return laden with his liberalities; for round his banqueting-hall were arranged by his orders a thousand barrels full of gold, and large sacks of velvet embroidered with pearls, crammed with pistoles. Each held an hundred thousand. They were given indiscriminately to all who held their hands for them; so that this ceremony, which was not one of the most useless or least agreeable on this occasion drew many persons to the wedding, who had little taste for other entertainments.

The Queen and Princess were advancing to meet the King, and proceed with him to the altar, when they saw entering a long gallery through which they were passing, two large turkey-cocks, drawing a very clumsily-made box. Behind them came a tall old woman, whose great age and decrepitude were no less remarkable than her extreme ugliness. She leaned on a crutch. She wore a black taffety ruff, a red velvet hood, and a farthingale all in tatters. She took three turns round the gallery with her turkey-cocks before she spoke a word; then, stopping in the centre of it, and brandishing her crutch in a threatening manner, she cried, "Ho! ho! Queen!—Ho! ho! Princess! Do you fancy you can break with impunity your promises to my friend the Yellow Dwarf! I am the Fairy of the Desert! But for him and his orange-tree know you not that my great lions would have devoured ye? We do not put up with such insults in Fairy Land. Consider quickly what you are about to do; for I swear by my coif, that you shall marry him, or I will burn my crutch."

"Ah! Princess," exclaimed the Queen, bursting into tears, "what do I hear!—what promise have you made?" "Ah! Mother," cried Toute-belle, sorrowfully, "What promise have ​you, yourself, made?" The King of the Gold Mines, enraged at this interruption, and the attempt of the wicked old woman to oppose his marriage, advanced upon her, sword in hand, and placing the point to her throat, cried, "Quit this palace for ever, or with thy life thou shalt atone for thy malice!"

He had scarcely pronounced these words, when the lid of the box flew up with a terrific noise as high as the ceiling, and out of it was seen to issue the Yellow Dwarf, mounted on a large Spanish cat, and who placed himself between the Fairy of the Desert and the King of the Gold Mines.

"Rash youth!" said he to the latter, "think not of assaulting this illustrious Fairy: 'tis with me alone thou hast to do! I am thy rival, thy enemy; the faithless Princess who would give thee her hand has plighted her troth to me, and received mine. Look, if she have not on her finger a ring of my hair. Try to remove it, and thou wilt learn by that little exertion that thy power is inferior to mine." "Miserable monster," said the King to him, "hast thou really the audacity to declare thyself the lover of this divine Princess, and to pretend to the possession of so glorious a treasure? Know that thou art a monkey, whose hideous figure is painful to the sight, and that I had ere this dispatched thee, hadst thou been worthy of dying by my hand." The Yellow Dwarf, stung to the very quick, struck his spurs into the sides of his cat, who set up a terrific squalling, and flying hither and thither, frightened everybody but the brave King, who pressed the dwarf so closely, that he drew a large cutlass with which he was armed, and defying the King to single combat, descended into the court-yard of the palace amidst an extraordinary uproar. The enraged King followed him with rapid strides. Scarcely had they confronted each other, the whole court being in the balconies to witness the combat, when the sun became suddenly as red as blood, and it grew so dark that they could scarcely see themselves. It thundered and lightened as if there was to be an end of the world, and the two turkey-cocks appeared at the side of the Yellow Dwarf like two giants, taller than mountains, casting out flames from their mouths and eyes in such abundance, that each looked like a fiery furnace. All these horrors were unable to shake the magnanimous heart of the young King. The intrepidity evinced by his every look and action reassured ​all who were interested in his preservation, and perhaps somewhat embarrassed the Yellow Dwarf; but his courage failed when he saw the Fairy of the Desert, her head covered with long serpents like Tisiphone, mounted upon a winged griffin, and armed with a lance, rush upon his dear Princess, and strike her so fierce a blow, that she fell into the Queen's arms bathed in her own blood. That tender mother, more deeply-wounded by the blow than was even her daughter, uttered shrieks and lamentations which are indescribable. The King's courage and reason at that sight abandoned him together. He ceased fighting, and ran to rescue the Princess, or perish with her, but the Yellow Dwarf anticipated his movements: he leaped with his Spanish cat into the balcony, snatched the Princess from the arms of the Queen and of the ladies by whom she was surrounded, and then jumping on to the roof of the palace, disappeared with his prize.

The King, motionless with astonishment, was gazing in utter despair on this extraordinary adventure, which unfortunately he had no power to prevent, when, to complete his misery, he felt his eyesight fail him, and that by some irresistible power he was hurried through the vast expanse of air. What misfortunes! Love! cruel Love! Is it thus thou usest those who acknowledge thee their conqueror? The wicked Fairy of the Desert, who came to assist the Yellow Dwarf to carry off the Princess, no sooner set her eyes upon the King of the Gold Mines than her barbarous heart was touched by the charms of that young Prince. She marked him for her prey, and bore him off to the recesses of a frightful cavern, where she loaded him with chains which she had fastened to a rock. She hoped that the fear of approaching death would make him forget Toute-belle, and induce him to do whatever she desired. As soon as they had arrived there, she restored his sight without setting him at liberty, and, assuming by the power of fairy art the graces and charms which nature had denied her, she appeared before him like a lovely nymph, whom chance had conducted to that spot.

"What do I behold!" she cried. "Can it be you, charming Prince? What misfortune has befallen you, and driven you to languish in this miserable abode?" The King, deceived by her appearance, replied, "Alas, fair nymph, I ​know not the object of the infernal Fairy who brought me hither; for, although she deprived me of sight when she bore me off, and has not appeared to me since, I know from the tone of her voice that it was the Fairy of the Desert." "Ah, my Lord," exclaimed the false nymph, "if you are in the power of that woman you will not escape without marrying her. She has served more than one hero this trick, and of all persons in the world, she is the most obstinate when she sets her mind upon anything." Whilst she thus pretended to take great interest in the King's affliction, he caught sight of the nymph's feet, which were like those of a griffin. The Fairy of the Desert was always recognised by this peculiarity, which in all her metamorphoses remained unchanged.

The King took no notice of it, and continuing to talk to her as in perfect confidence, "I do not," said he, "entertain any dislike to the Fairy of the Desert, but I cannot endure that she should protect the Yellow Dwarf and keep me in chains like a criminal. What have I done to offend her? I admired a charming princess; but if the Fairy restores me to liberty, I feel that gratitude will induce me to love no one but her." "Do you say that sincerely," asked the deceived nymph. "Doubt it not," replied the King. "I am unacquainted with the art of dissimulation; and I confess to you that my vanity would be more flattered by the regard of a Fairy than by that of a simple Princess; but were I dying for love of her, I would evince nothing but hatred to her, until I had regained my liberty."

The Fairy of the Desert, deceived by these words, resolved to transport the King to a spot which was as beautiful as the cavern he now inhabited was horrible. So compelling him to enter her chariot, to which she had now harnessed swans instead of the bats which usually drew it, she fled with the King of the Gold Mines from one pole to the other.

But what was the Prince's emotion, whilst thus travelling through the boundless regions of air, at beholding his dear Princess in a castle all of steel, the walls of which, reflecting the rays of the sun, became like burning-glasses, and scorched to death all who ventured to approach it. She was reclining in a bower beside a streamlet. One of her hands was beneath her head, and with the other she appeared to be wiping away her tears. As she lifted her eyes to heaven, imploring its ​aid, she saw the King pass by with the Fairy of the Desert, who, having taxed the magic power she was so skilled in, to appear beautiful in the eyes of the young monarch, seemed to those of the Princess the most admirable creature in the world! "How!" she exclaimed, "am I not sufficiently wretched in this inaccessible castle, to which the frightful Yellow Dwarf has transported me? Must the demon of jealousy come to torture me, to complete my misery? Must I learn by this extraordinary occurrence the infidelity of the King of the Gold Mines? He has supposed that once out of sight he was absolved from all the vows that he has made me! But who is this formidable rival, whose fatal beauty surpasses mine?"

Whilst the Princess was thus speaking, the enamoured King was in mortal agony at being so rapidly borne away from the dear object of his affections. If he had not been so fully aware of the power of the Fairy, he would have attempted, at any hazard, to escape from her, either by killing her, or some other means which his love or his courage might have suggested; but what could be done against so powerful a being? Opportunity and stratagem could alone release him from her clutches.

The Fairy had perceived Toute-belle, and sought to discover in the eyes of the King the effect which the sight of his darling had produced in his heart. "No one," said the King, interpreting her glances, "can better than myself furnish you with the information you desire; this unexpected meeting with an unhappy Princess, for whom I entertained a previous attachment, has caused me some little emotion; but you possess so great an ascendency over her in my mind, that I would rather die than be faithless to you." "Ah! Prince," said the Fairy, "may I flatter myself that I have inspired you with sentiments so favourable to me?" "Time will convince you, Madam," he replied; "but if you would persuade me that I have some share in your good graces, you will not refuse me when I ask your protection for Toute-belle." "Do you know what you ask me?" said the Fairy, frowning and looking askance at him. "Would you have me employ my science against the Yellow Dwarf, who is my best friend, and release from his power a proud princess whom I cannot cease to regard as my rival?" The King sighed, without replying. ​What answer could he make so astute a personage? They reached an extensive meadow, enamelled with a thousand various flowers. A deep river surrounded it, and streams from many fountains flowed gently beneath tufted trees, affording ever a refreshing shade. In the distance arose a superb palace, the walls of which were of transparent emeralds. As soon as the swans that drew the Fairy's chariot had descended beneath a portico roofed with rubies, and paved with diamonds, thousands of lovely nymphs appeared on all sides, and advanced to receive them with loud acclamations of joy. They sang the following words:—

"When Love o'er the heart would a triumph obtain,
Defiance is idle—we struggle in vain.
Resistance gives force to the weapons he wields;
The greater the hero, the sooner he yields."

The Fairy of the Desert was delighted at hearing this allusion to her conquest. She led the King into the most superb apartment that had ever existed in the recollection of fairies, and left him there for a few minutes alone, that he might not fancy himself positively a prisoner. He felt assured that she was not far off, and that wherever she might hide herself, she had an eye upon all his actions. He therefore advanced towards a large looking-glass, and, addressing it, he said, "Faithful counsellor, allow me to see what I can do to render myself more agreeable to the charming Fairy of the Desert, for my anxiety to please her is unceasing." So saying, he combed and powdered his hair, put a patch upon his cheek,[2] and seeing on a table a suit of clothes more magnificent than his own, he dressed himself in them as quickly as possible. The Fairy reentered, so transported with joy, that she could not control it. "I appreciate," said she, "the pains you take to please me. You found the way without intending it. Judge then, Sir, if it will be a difficult task when you are anxious to do so."

The King, who had his reasons for saying sweet things to the old Fairy, was not sparing of them, and by degrees obtained permission to take a daily walk by the sea-side. She had, by the exercise of her art, rendered that coast so dangerous that no pilots were sufficiently adventurous to approach ​it, so that she had nothing to fear from the favour she had granted to her captive. It was, however, some comfort to him to indulge in solitary musings, uninterrupted by the presence of his wicked gaoler.

After having strolled for some time on the sands, he stooped and wrote the following lines in them with a cane which he carried:—

At length I am at liberty to weep:
My tears in torrents now uncheck'd may pour,
And ease my labouring bosom's anguish deep.
Alas! my love I shall behold no more.
O thou that makest this rock-girted shore
To mortals inaccessible! dread Sea,
Whose mountain billows as the wild winds roar:
Now high as heaven, now low as hell, can flee;
Thy state, compared to mine, is calm tranquillity.

Toute-belle! O cruel destiny! For ever,
For ever lost! The idol of my heart!
Ye Gods, when dooming me from her to sever,
Why bade ye not my life as well depart?
Spirit of Ocean! whatsoe'er thou art—
If it be true that e'en beneath the wave
Love hath the power to reach thee with his dart—
Rise from thy pearly grot, thy coral cave,
And from despair a fond and faithful lover save.

As he finished writing, he heard a voice which irresistibly attracted all his attention, and perceiving the tide rising in an extraordinary manner, he looked rapidly around him and saw a female of extraordinary beauty, whose body to the waist was covered only by her long hair, which, gently agitated by the breeze, floated upon the water. She held a looking-glass in one hand, and a comb in the other. Her form terminated in a long fish's tail, furnished with fins. The King was much surprised at so extraordinary an appearance. As soon as she was near enough to speak to him, she said, "I know the sad state to which you are reduced by the loss of your Princess, and by the extravagant passion which the Fairy of the Desert entertains for you. If you are willing, I will convey you from this fatal spot, where you may otherwise languish for more than thirty years longer." The King knew not how to reply to this proposal; not that he wanted any temptation to escape from captivity, but that he feared the Fairy of the Desert had taken this form to deceive him. As he hesitated, the Syren, who could read his thoughts, said, "Do not ​imagine I am laying a snare for you; I am of too honest a nature to wish to serve your foes. The conduct of the Fairy of the Desert and of the Yellow Dwarf has incensed me against them. I see your unhappy Princess daily; her beauty and merit equally excite my compassion, and I repeat to you, if you will have confidence in me, I will save you." "I have such perfect confidence in you," said the King, "that I will do whatever you command; but as you have seen my Princess, pray give me some news of her." "We should lose too much time in conversation, here," said the Syren. "Come with me, I will convey you to the Steel Castle, and leave on the shore a figure so perfectly resembling you, that it shall deceive the Fairy.

She immediately cut some sea-rushes, and making a large bundle of them, blew three times upon them, and said, "Sea-rushes, my friends, I order you to lie stretched on the sand, without motion, until the Fairy of the Desert comes to take you away." The rushes became covered with skin, and so like the King of the Gold Mines, that he had never seen so astonishing a transformation. They were dressed in clothes exactly resembling his, and the countenance was pale and wasted, as if he had been drowned. The friendly Syren then made the King seat himself upon her great fish's tail, and thus they ploughed the sea together with mutual satisfaction.

"I will now willingly inform you," said the Syren, "that when the wicked Yellow Dwarf carried off Toute-belle, notwithstanding the wound the Fairy of the Desert had inflicted on her, he placed her behind him on the crupper of his horrible Spanish cat. She lost so much blood, and was so terrified by the whole occurrence, that her strength failed her, and she was in a swoon during the entire journey; but the Yellow Dwarf would not stop to give her the least assistance until he had safely arrived in his terrible Steel Palace. He was received on his entrance by the most beautiful nymphs in the world whom he had transported thither. They emulated each other in their eagerness to serve the Princess. She was put into a bed, the furniture of which was of cloth of gold, covered with pearls as big as walnuts." "Hah!" exclaimed the King of the Gold Mines, interrupting the Syren, "he has married her, then? I faint! I die!" "No," said she, "compose yourself, my Lord, the constancy of Toute-belle has preserved ​her from the violence of that hideous dwarf." "Proceed then," said the King. "What more have I to tell you?" continued the Syren. "She was in the grove when you passed over it. She saw you with the Fairy of the Desert, who was so disguised that she appeared to the Princess to possess greater beauty than herself. Her despair is not to be conceived. She believes you love the Fairy." "She believes that I love the Fairy! Just Heavens!" cried the King, "into what a fatal error has she fallen, and what must I do to undeceive her?" "Consult your own heart," replied the Syren, with a gracious smile. "When we are deeply in love, we need no advice in such a matter." As she uttered these words, they arrived at the Steel Castle. The side that faced the sea was the only part of it that the Yellow Dwarf had not fortified with those formidable walls which burned everybody who approached them.

"I know well enough," said the Syren to the King, "that Toute-belle is beside the same fountain that you saw her seated near when you passed over the castle gardens; but as you will have some enemies to contend with before you can approach her, here is a sword, armed with which you may dare any encounter, and brave the greatest dangers; but beware that you never let it fall. Adieu; I go to repose beneath the rock you see yonder. If you need my assistance to convey you and your dear Princess any further, I will not fail you; for the Queen, her mother, is my best friend, and it was for her sake that I came to seek you." So saying, she presented the King with a sword, made of a single diamond. The rays of the sun were less brilliant. The King comprehended all its value, and unable to find terms in which to express his gratitude to the Syren, he implored her to supply his deficiency by imagining all that an honest heart was capable of feeling, under such great obligations.

We must now say a word about the Fairy of the Desert. When she found her amiable lover did not return, she hastened in search of him. She went down to the sea-shore with an hundred maidens in her train, all bearing magnificent presents for the King. Some carried large baskets filled with diamonds; others golden vases of marvellous workmanship; many bore ambergris, coral, and pearls; others carried on their heads bales of inconceivably rich stuffs; whilst ​others again carried fruit, flowers, and even birds. But what were the feelings of the Fairy, who followed this fair and numerous troop, when she saw the sea-rushes looking so like the King of the Gold Mines, that it was impossible to distinguish the least difference between them? At this sight, struck with astonishment and the deepest grief, she uttered so fearful a shriek that it pierced the skies, made the hills tremble, and was echoed even in the infernal regions. The Furies, Megara, Alecto, and Tisiphone, could not assume a more terrible appearance than did the Fairy of the Desert at that moment. She threw herself on the seeming body of the King; she wept, she howled, she tore to pieces fifty of the most beautiful maidens who had accompanied her, immolating them to the manes of the dear departed. After this she invoked the presence of eleven of her sister fairies, and requested them to aid her in the construction of a superb mausoleum, in which she might deposit the remains of the young hero. Every one of the eleven was, like the Desert Fairy, deceived by the appearance of the sea-rushes. This circumstance is enough to surprise one, for fairies in general know everything; but the clever Syren proved in this case that she knew more than they did.

While they were collecting porphyry, jasper, agate, and marble, statues, devices, gold and bronze to immortalise the memory of the King they believed to be dead, he was thanking the amiable Syren, and conjuring her to continue to protect him. She pledged herself to do so in the kindest manner possible, and vanished from his sight. There was nothing left for him to do, but to advance towards the Steel Castle.

So, guided by his love, he strode on rapidly, narrowly examining every part of the castle in hopes of discovering his adorable Princess; but he was not long without other occupation. Four terrible sphinxes surrounded him, and flying on him with their sharp talons would quickly have torn him in pieces, if the diamond sword had not proved as useful to him as the Syren had predicted. He had scarcely flashed it in the eyes of these monsters before they fell powerless at his feet. He dealt each of them its death-blow, then advancing again, he encountered six dragons, covered with scales, harder to pierce than iron. Alarming as was this adventure, his courage remained unshaken, and making good use of ​his redoubtable sword, there was not one that he did not cut in half at a blow. He was in hopes he had surmounted the greatest obstacles, when a most embarrassing one presented itself. Twenty-four beautiful and graceful nymphs advanced to meet him with long garlands of flowers, which they stretched across his path to impede his progress. "Whither would you go, Sire?" said they, "we are entrusted with the guardianship of these regions. If we permit you to pass, innumerable misfortunes will befal both you and us. For mercy's sake do not persist in this resolution. Would you stain your victorious hand with the blood of twenty-four innocent maidens, who have never done anything to displease you?" The King at this sight stood amazed and irresolute. He did not know what course to take. He, who professed such extreme respect for the fair sex, and his eagerness to be their champion to the death on every occasion, was in the present case about to destroy some of the fairest! But whilst he was hesitating, he heard a voice which instantly determined him. "Strike! strike!" said this voice to him, "or thy Princess is lost to thee for ever!"

At these words, without uttering a syllable in reply to the nymphs, he rushed upon them, broke through their garlands, attacked them without mercy, and scattered them in a moment. This was the last obstacle he had to encounter. He entered the grove in which he had previously seen Toute-belle. She was seated beside the fountain, pale and suffering. He accosted her tremblingly. He would have thrown himself at her feet: but she fled from him as hastily and indignantly as if he had been the Yellow Dwarf. "Condemn me not unheard, Madam," said he, "I am neither faithless nor guilty of any intentional wrong towards you. I am an unhappy lover, who has been compelled, despite himself, to offend you." "Ah, cruel Prince," she exclaimed, "I saw you sail through the air with a lady of extraordinary beauty; was it despite yourself you made that voyage?" "Yes, Princess," replied he, "it was despite myself; the wicked Fairy of the Desert was not satisfied with chaining me to a rock, she wafted me in a car to one of the ends of the world, where I should still have languished in captivity, but for the unhoped-for assistance of a beneficent Syren who brought me hither. I come, my Princess, to snatch you from the power of him who ​holds you a prisoner. Do not reject the aid of the most faithful of lovers!" He flung himself at her feet and caught the skirt of her gown to detain her: but in so doing he unfortunately let fall the formidable sword. The Yellow Dwarf, who had lain hidden beneath the leaves of a lettuce, no sooner saw it out of the King's hands than, being aware of its power, he sprang upon and seized it.

The Princess uttered a terrible shriek at the sight of the Dwarf; but her anguish only exasperated the little monster: with two cabalistic words he conjured up two giants, who loaded the King with chains and fetters. "Now," said the Dwarf, "I am master of my rival's fate; but I will spare his life, and give him liberty to leave this place, provided you consent to marry me immediately." "Oh, let me rather die a thousand deaths!" exclaimed the amorous King. "You die!—alas, my Lord!" said the Princess, "what can be more terrible to me than such a calamity!" "Your becoming the victim of this monster," replied the King; "can any horror exceed that?" "Let us die together then," continued she. "Nay, Princess," rejoined the King, "grant me the consolation of dying for you." "Sooner than that," said the Princess to the Dwarf, "I consent to your wishes." "Before my eyes!" exclaimed the King; "before my eyes, will you make him your husband?—Cruel Princess,—life will be hateful to me!" "No," said the Yellow Dwarf. "You shall not see me become her husband:—a beloved rival is too dangerous to be endured!"

With these words, despite the tears and shrieks of Toute-belle, he stabbed the King to the heart, and laid him dead at his feet. The Princess, unable to survive her lover, fell upon his body, and her spirit quickly fled to join his. Thus perished this illustrious but unfortunate pair, without the possibility of assistance from the Syren; for the power of the spell was centred in the diamond sword.

The wicked Dwarf preferred seeing the Princess dead to beholding her in the arms of another, and the Fairy of the Desert becoming informed of this event, destroyed the mausoleum she had erected, conceiving as much hatred of the memory of the King of the Gold Mines as she had formerly entertained passion for his person.

The friendly Syren, overwhelmed with grief at so great ​a misfortune, could obtain no other favour from Fate than the permission to change the two lovers into palm-trees. Their two bodies, so perfect during life, became two beautiful trees; still cherishing a faithful love for each other, they joined their branches in fond embraces, and immortalised their passion by that tender union.

Those who in danger on the stormy main
Vow hecatombs to all the Gods they know,
When safe on shore they find themselves again,
Not even near their altars care to go.
All, when in peril, oaths are prone to take;
But let the tragic tale of poor Toute-belle
Warn ye no promise in your fear to make,
You would not gladly keep when all is well.

The End

1. "Toutebelle est trop belle."

2. Mouches. Patches made of small pieces of court plaister were at this period indispensable to the appearance of a fine gentleman or lady.

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