ONCE upon a time there lived a king and a queen who had had several children born to them. But they all died, and the king and the queen were so sorry, so very sorry, that they could not be comforted. They were very rich, and the one thing they wanted was to have more children. It was five years since the queen's last son had been born, and everybody thought she would not have any more, for she distressed herself so much in thinking of all the little princes who had been so pretty, and who were dead.
At last, however, the queen knew that another child was to be born to her, and all her thoughts, night and day, were of how to preserve the little creature's life, or of the name it would be called by, or its clothes, or of the dolls and the playthings she would give it. A command was sent out, proclaimed by the sound of trumpets, and stuck up in all the public squares, that the best nurses should present themselves before the queen, for she wished to choose one for her infant. So they came from all the four corners of the earth, and there were none but nurses with their babies to be seen. One day then, when the queen was taking the air in a great forest, she sat down, and said to the king: "Sire, call all our nurses together and choose one, for our cows have not milk enough to provide for so many little children". "Very well, my love," said the king. "Come, and let all the nurses be called." So they all Came, one after the other, bowing with much respect before the queen. Then they stood up in a row, each with her back against a tree. After they had taken their places, and the king and queen had admired their fresh complexion, their beautiful teeth, and their look of health and strength, a little wheelbarrow was seen coming up, pushed along by two ugly little dwarfs, and in it a hideous creature with crooked feet, her knees touching her chin, with a great hump on her back, squinting eyes, and skin as black as ink. In her arms she held a little monkey, which she was nursing, and she was speaking in a jargon they could not understand. She had also come to offer herself as nurse, but the queen drove her away, saying: "Be off, you great ugly thing. You are very ill-bred to come before me with your hideous face, and if you stay another minute I'll have you dragged off." So the sulky creature passed on, muttering aloud, and drawn along by her hideous little dwarfs she went and stuck herself in the hollow of a great tree, from where she could see everything.
The queen thought nothing more about her, and chose an excellent nurse. But as soon as she had named her choice, a horrible serpent, hidden under the grass, stung the nurse's foot, and she fell in a swoon. The queen, much distressed at this accident, cast her eyes on another. Immediately an eagle passed flying by, carrying a tortoise, which he let fall on the poor nurse's head, and broke it in pieces like a glass. The queen, still more distressed, called for a third nurse, who, in her great eagerness to come forward, struck against a bush with great thorns, and put out her eye. "Ah!" cried the queen. "We are indeed unfortunate to-day. I cannot choose a nurse without bringing some ill-luck upon her. I must leave the care of them to my doctor." As she was rising to return to the palace she heard a stifled laugh, and turning round, she saw behind her the wicked hunchback, looking like an ape as she sat with her little imp in the wheelbarrow. There she was, laughing at the whole company, and especially at the queen, who was so angry that she wished to go and beat her, feeling sure she was the cause of the evil chance that had happened to the nurses. But the hunchback, with three strokes of her wand, turned the dwarfs into winged griffins, the wheelbarrow into a chariot of fire, and they all flew away together into the air, uttering threats and horrible cries.
"Alas! my love, we are lost," said the king. "That was the Fairy Carabosse. The wicked creature has hated me ever since I was a little boy on account of a trick I played her, putting sulphur in her broth. Since that time she has been seeking to revenge herself on me." The queen began to cry. "If I had but known her name," she said; "I would have tried to make friends with her. But now I feel as if I should like to die." When the king saw her so distressed, he said: "Come, my love, let us think what we must do," and he gave her his arm to lean on, for she was still trembling from the fright Carabosse had given her. When the king and the queen were in their room they called their councillors, and shut the doors and windows so that nothing might be heard. Then they determined to have all the fairies for a thousand miles round present at the birth of the child. So without delay they despatched couriers, and sent letters by them--beautifully written and most polite letters--asking them to be so good as to be present at the birth of the royal infant, and to say nothing about the matter to anybody. For they trembled lest Carabosse should hear of it, and come and spoil everything. And to reward them for their trouble, they were promised a hongreline  of blue velvet, a skirt of amaranth velvet, and slippers of crimson satin, a pair of little gilden scissors, and a case full of fine needles.
As soon as the messengers had set off, the queen began to work along with her maidens and her servants at all the things she had promised the fairies. She knew of a good many who might be expected, hut only five came, and they arrived just at the moment when the little princess was born. So they shut themselves up in the queen's room without delay to name their fairy gifts. The first one endowed her with perfect beauty, the second with wonderful cleverness, the third with the power of singing, and the fourth with that of writing both in prose and verse. When the fifth was opening her mouth to speak, a noise was heard in the chimney like a great stone falling from the top of a steeple, and Carabosse, all covered with soot, made her appearance, screeching out: "Here is my gift to the little one, I wish:--
"That all her youth be overcast
Till her twentieth year be past".
At these words the queen who was in bed began to cry, and to beg Carabosse to take pity on the little princess. And all the fairies said: "Alas! sister, take away this curse from her! What has she done to you?" But the ugly fairy growled, and made no answer. So the fifth fairy, who had not vet spoken, tried to mend matters by endowing the child with a long life full of happiness after the period of the curse should have passed by. Carabosse only laughed, and began singing all kinds of mocking songs, climbing out of the palace by the same road she had come. All the fairies were in great consternation, hut especially the poor queen. She did not forget, however, to give them what she had promised, adding even ribbons, which they are very fond of, and entertaining them hospitably.
The eldest fairy, as she was going away, said that in her opinion the princess, till she was twenty years old, should he kept in some place where she would see no one but the attendants chosen for her, and where she would be closely guarded. Thereupon the king had a tower built, in which there was not a single window, and where you could not see except by candle light. To get in you had to go through a vault which stretched under the ground for a league, and it was through this passage that everything that the nurses and the governesses wanted was brought. Every twenty paces there were great doors, with strong locks, and all along numerous guards were stationed,
The young princess had been called Mayblossom, for she had a complexion of lilies and roses, fresher and brighter than the spring. In everything she did or said she excelled, learning the most difficult sciences as if they were quite easy. And she grew so tall, and so beautiful, that the king and the queen never saw her without shedding tears of joy. Sometimes she would beg them to stay with her, or to take her away with them, for she wearied in the tower, without knowing why. But they always put it off. Her nurse, who had never left her, and who was not lacking in intelligence, told her sometimes what the world was like, and she understood everything at once just as if she had seen it. The king would often say to the queen: "My love, Carabosse will be made a fool of. We are cleverer than she is, and our Mayblossom will be happy in spite of her predictions." And the queen would laugh till the tears came, to think of the annoyance of the wicked fairy. They had had Mayblossom's portrait painted, and had sent pictures of her throughout the whole world, for the time to release her from the tower being at hand, they wished to marry her. At last, only four days were wanting to complete the twenty years, and the court and the town were very joyous at the thought of the approaching liberty of the princess. And their joy was all the greater when they heard that King Merlin wished to have her for his own, and that he was sending his ambassador, Fanfarinet, to ask her hand in marriage.
The nurse, who told the princess everything, brought her this news, telling her that no sight in the world would be so fine as Fanfarinet's entrance, "Ah, how unfortunate I am!" she cried. "I am shut up here in a dark tower, as if I had committed some great crime. I have never seen the sky, nor the sun, nor the stars, whose wonders are so much talked of. I have never seen a horse, nor a monkey, nor a lion, except in a picture. The king and the queen say they are going to release me when I am twenty years old, but they only say that to make me have patience. I know quite well they wish me to die here, though in nothing have I offended them." Thereupon she began to cry, so long and bitterly that her eyes were as big as her fists; and her nurse, and her foster-sister, and the undernurse and the woman who sang her to sleep, and the little nursemaid, who all loved her passionately, began to weep too so long and bitterly that nothing was heard but sobs and sighs, till they thought they must choke, so great was their distress. When the princess saw them so ready to grieve with her, she took a knife, and said in a loud voice: "There! I am determined to kill myself on the spot, if you do not find some means of letting me see the grand entrance of Fanfarinet. The king and the queen will never know. Choose, therefore, whether you would rather I should kill myself here, or whether you will do what I ask." At these words the nurse and the others began to cry again still louder, and they all determined to let her see Fanfarinet or die themselves in the attempt. The rest of the night they spent in making plans as to how this could be carried out, but in vain, and May blossom, who was in despair said without ceasing 'Never tell me again that you love me You would find some means if you did for I have heard that love and friendship can do anything."
At last they came to the conclusion that a hole would have to be made in the tower, on that side of the town by which Fanfarinet would come. So pushing aside the princess's bed, they all set to work day and night without stopping. By means of scraping, they took away first the plaster and then the little stones, till at last they made a hole through which with much difficulty you might have slipped a fine needle. It was through this opening that Mayblossom saw the light for the first time. She was quite dazzled by it. Looking as she did steadily through the little hole, she saw Fanfarinet appear at the head of his whole troop. He was riding on a white horse which danced to the sound of the trumpets, rearing in a splendid fashion. Six flute-players walked in front, playing the finest opera airs, and six hautboys took up the sound. Then the trumpets and the timbrels struck up. Fanfarinet was dressed in a doublet, embroidered with pearls. His boots were of gold, and scarlet plumes waved on his helmet, and ribbons floated from every part of his dress, while he was so covered with diamonds--for King Merlin had whole rooms full of them--that the sun's splendour was as nothing to his. Mayblossom at this sight was beside herself, and quite exhausted. After considering the matter a little, she swore that she would marry none but the beautiful Fanfarinet, that there was no reason for thinking his master would be as beautiful, and she had no ambition to marry one of high rank; that if she had lived happily' in a tower, she could live happily, if need be, in some castle in the country with him, and that she would think bread and water in his company better than chicken and sugar-plums with any body else. In short, she spoke so much that her women could not think where she had learnt a quarter of what she said. When they pleaded her rank and the wrong she would be doing herself, she bade them be silent, and would not deign to listen to their words.
As soon as Fanfarinet had come into the palace of the king, the queen sent for her daughter. All the streets were carpeted, and the ladies stood at the windows, some with baskets full of flowers in their hands, some with baskets full of pearls, others, what were still better, delicious sweetmeats, to throw at her when she passed by. Her maids were just beginning to dress her when there came to the tower a dwarf, mounted on an elephant. He had been sent by the five good fairies who had given her gifts when she was born. They sent her a crown, a sceptre, a dress of gold brocade, a skirt made of butterflies' wings, worked in the most wonderful way, with a still more marvellous casket, full of jewels of priceless value. Never were such treasures seen. At sight of them the queen was speechless with admiration, but the princess looked at them all indifferently, for she was only thinking of Fanfarinet. They thanked the dwarf, and gave him also a pistole to go and drink their health with, and more than a thousand ells of many coloured ribbons, with which he made himself fine garters, and a breast knot, and a rosette for his hat. Being small, when he had put all the ribbons on, you could no longer see him. The queen said she would go and look for something pretty to send back to the fairies, and the princess, who was very kind-hearted, gave them several German spinning-wheels, with distaffs made of cedar-wood.
When they had arrayed the princess in all the rarest things the dwarf had brought, she seemed to everybody so beautiful that the sun hid itself in spite, and the moon, who is never too shamefaced, dared not appear while she was on the road. She walked on foot through the streets over rich carpets, the assembled people in crowds crying around her: "Ah, how beautiful she is! How beautiful she is!" As she walked in her gorgeous robes between the queen and four or five dozen princesses of the blood--not to speak of more than ten dozen who had come from neighbouring states to be present at the feast--the sky began to darken, and the thunder to rumble, and the rain and the hail to fall in torrents. The queen put her royal mantle over her head, and the ladies their skirts. Mayblossom was just going to do the same when the noise of number less ravens, and screech-owls, carrion-crows, and other birds of evil omen was heard in the air, their croakings boding nothing good. At the same time an ugly owl, of an enormous size, came swooping down, holding in his beak a scarf of spider's web, embroidered with bats' wings. It let this scarf fall on Mayblossom's shoulders, and great bursts of laughter were heard, a sure enough sign that it was some mischievous trick of Carabosse's planning.
At this terrible sight everybody began to cry, and the queen, more distressed than anyone else, wanted to snatch away the black scarf, which seemed, how ever, to be nailed to her daughter's shoulders. "Ah!" she said, "this is a trick which our enemy has played us. Nothing can appease her. In vain have I sent her fifty pounds of sweetmeats, as much of our own especial sugar, and two Mayence hams. She has taken no notice of them." While she was lamenting thus, they were all getting wet to the skin. Mayblossom, her head full of the ambassador, was speeding on in perfect silence, thinking to herself that provided she pleased him, she did not care either for Carabosse or for her ill-omened scarf. She was wondering that he did not come to meet her, when all at once she saw him by the king's side. Immediately the trumpets, drums, and violins struck up gaily. The cries of the people redoubled, and in fact there were no bounds to the rejoicing.
Fanfarinet was very ready-witted. Yet when he saw the fair Mayblossom with so much grace and dignity, he was so delighted that instead of speaking he only gaped. You would have said he was drunk, though of a truth he had only taken one cup of chocolate. He was in despair at having forgotten in a moment a speech he had been repeating every day for months, and which he knew well enough to be able to say in his sleep. While he was torturing his memory to call back the words, he kept bowing low before the princess, who, for her part, made half-a-dozen curtsies without knowing what she was doing. At last she spoke, and to relieve him from the trouble in which she saw him, she said: "My Lord Fanfarinet, I feel absolutely certain that ever thought of yours is charming, for I know you are full of intelligence. But let us make haste and reach the palace. It is pouring in torrents. The wicked Carabosse wants to drown us, but when we are inside we can laugh at her." He answered her with much gallantry for the fairy had wisely foreseen the fire that the fair eyes of the princess would light, and it was to temper it she poured out this deluge of water. With these few words he gave her his hand to help her on her way, while low in his ear she whispered: "I feel for you what you would never guess, if I did not tell you myself. It is somewhat difficult for me to do so, but 'evil to him that evil thinks'. Know, therefore, my Lord Ambassador, that I admired you very much when I first saw you on your fine, prancing horse, and I felt full of regret that you should come here on another's errand. There is a remedy to be found for this, if your courage is as great as mine. Instead of marrying you in the name of your master, I shall marry you in your own. I know you are not a prince, but you please me just as much as if you were, and we shall flee away together into some corner of the world. At first it will make some talk. But another girl will do as I have done, or perhaps worse; and then they will leave us alone and talk of her, and I shall have the pleasure of living with you."
Fanfarinet thought he must be dreaming, for Mayblossom was so magnificent a princess, that unless by some strange caprice of fortune he could have never hoped for this honour she did him. He had not even strength left to answer her. If they had been alone, he would have thrown himself at her feet. As it was, he took the liberty of wringing her hand so vigorously that he hurt her little finger very much. But she never cried out, so infatuated was she. When she entered the palace all kinds of musical instruments began to play, mingled with voices like those of the angels, so exquisite that no one dared to breathe for fear of making too much noise. After the king had kissed his daughter on the forehead and on the two cheeks, he said to her: "My little lambkin (for he gave her all kind of pet names), will you not be glad to marry the son of the great King Merlin? Here is Lord Fanfarinet, who will perform the ceremony for him, and who will take you away into the finest kingdom in the world." "Yes, my father," she said, with a low bow; "I am willing to do anything to please you, provided my good mother gives her consent." "Yes, I give my consent, my darling," said the queen, embracing her. "Come now, let the tables be spread." And this was done in haste. There were a hundred spread in a great gallery, and in the memory of man never was there such feasting. Only Mayblossom and Fanfarinet did not partake, for they only thought of looking at each other, until they became so dreamy that they forgot all that was going on around them. After the feast there was a ball, a ballet, and a play acted, but it was already so late, and everybody had eaten so much, that in spite of all their efforts, the people were sleeping on their feet. The king and the queen, overcome also with sleep, threw themselves on a sofa. The greater part of the dames and cavaliers were snoring, the musicians played out of tune, and the players did not know what they were saying. Only our lovers were wide awake as mice, and looking at each other with soft looks. The princess, seeing that there was nothing to fear, and that the guards lying on their pallets were asleep too, said to Fanfarinet: "Trust me, let us take advantage of so favourable an opportunity, for if I wait for the wedding ceremony the king will give me waiting women and a prince to accompany me to your King Merlin. We had better go now, as quickly as we can."
Getting up, she took the king's dagger, which was studded with diamonds, and the head-dress which the queen had taken off that she might sleep more at her ease. She gave her white hand to Fanfarinet, and as he took it he knelt on the ground and said: "I swear to be for ever faithful and obedient to your high ness. Great princess, you do everything for me. What would I not do for you!" They left the palace, the ambassador carrying a dark lantern in his hand, and through very muddy streets they reached the port, where they got into a little boat. There was a poor old boatman in it asleep. They awoke him, and when he saw Mayblossom so beautiful and so gaily dressed, with so many diamonds, and with her spider-web scarf, he took her for the Goddess of Night, and knelt before her. But as there was no time to be lost, she ordered him to set off. It was very venturesome, for neither moon nor stars could be seen, and the air was still full of the storm which Carabosse had caused. It is true there was a carbuncle in the queen's head-dress which shone brighter than fifty lighted torches, and Fanfarinet, indeed, might have done without the dark lantern, the carbuncle having the power of making them invisible. Fanfarinet asked the princess where she would like to go. "Alas!" she said, "I wish to go with you. That is all I care for." "But, madam," he answered "I dare not take you to King Merlin's court, for there I should be killed like a dog." "Very well," she answered; "let us go to the desert Isle of Squirrels. It is far enough away, so we shall not be followed." Then she ordered the sailor to set off, and though it was only a little boat, he obeyed.
When day was dawning the first thought of the king, the queen, and of everybody, after they had shaken themselves a little and rubbed their eyes, was to complete the princess's marriage ceremony. The queen, in great haste, asked for her grand head-dress to put on her hair. They looked for it everywhere, from cabinets even to saucepans, but it was not to be found. The queen, very anxious, ran up and down stairs, to the cellar, to the attic, everywhere, but it was nowhere to be seen.
The king, for his part, wished to array himself with his magnificent dagger, and in the same way they began to rummage everywhere, opening boxes and caskets, the keys of which had been lost for more than a hundred years. They found all kinds of curious things, dolls that moved their heads and their eyes, golden sheep with their little lambs, lemon peel, pickled walnuts, but none of these made up to the king for his loss. He was so desperate that he tore his beard, and the queen, for company, tore her hair, for in truth the head-dress and the dagger were worth more than ten towns as large as Madrid.
When the king saw there was no hope of finding either of them, he said to the queen: "My love, take courage, and let us haste to complete the ceremony which already has cost us so dear". When he asked where the princess was, her nurse came forward and said: "Your majesty, I assure you that I have looked for her for more than two hours, and I cannot find her". These Words brought the king and queen's grief to a climax, and the queen began to cry like an eagle whose little ones have been taken away, and fell down in a faint. You never saw such a pitiful sight, and they had to throw more than two buckets of Queen-of-Hungary water on her majesty's face before she came to herself. The court ladies and the maids of honour wept, and all the valets cried out: "What is the king's daughter really lost?" The king seeing that the princess was not to be found, said to his chief page: "Go and fetch Fanfarinet, who is sleeping in some corner, that he may come and mourn with us". So the page went about looking everywhere for Fanfarinet, but he was no more to be found than were Mayblossom, the head-dress, and the dagger. This was another addition to their troubles, and their majesties were in despair.
The king called all his councillors and men-at-arms together, and went with the queen into the great hail, which had already been hung with black. They had put off their gay dresses, and they each wore a long mourning robe, tied round the waist with a cord. When their people saw them in this condition, there was no heart so hard but was ready to break, and the hall resounded with sobs and sighs, while streams of tears flowed over the floor. As the king had had no time to prepare his speech he was three hours before he could say a word. At last he began:--
"Listen now, gentle and simple. I have lost my dear daughter, Mayblossom. I do not know whether she has melted away or whether she has been stolen away from me. The queen's head-dress and my dagger, which are worth their weight in gold, have also disappeared, and what is worse, the ambassador Fanfarinet is no longer to be found. I very much fear that the king, his master, receiving no news, will come and seek for him at our court, and that he will accuse us of cutting him to pieces. I should be more patient if I had any money, but I must own to you that the expenses of the wedding have ruined me. Counsel me, therefore, my dear subjects, as to what I can do to get back my daughter, Fanfarinet, and the property I have lost."
Everyone admired the king's fine speech; he had never spoken so well before. Lord Gambille, the chancellor of the kingdom, then spoke:--
"Your majesty, we regret very much the trouble that has befallen you, and we would have given you our very wives and our little ones, so that you might have less reason to grieve. But evidently all this has been brought about by the fairy Carabosse. The princess's twenty years had not yet been completed, and since I must speak frankly, I ought to tell you that I noticed she was always looking at Fanfarinet and he was always looking at her too So perhaps Lose has been playing some of his tricks."
At these words the queen, who was very quick-tempered, interrupted him. "Take care what you are saying, my Lord Gambille. The princess would not be disposed to fall in love with Fanfarinet. I have brought her up too well." Thereupon the nurse, who was listening to everything, came and knelt before the king and queen. "I come to confess to you what has happened," she said. "The princess declared she must see Fanfarinet, or die, so we made a little hole, through which she saw him, and at once she swore she would never marry anyone else." On hearing this everyone was in great distress, for they knew well that Chancellor Gambille was a very keen-sighted man. The queen in great wrath scolded the nurse, the foster-sister, the under-nurse, the woman who had used to sing the princess to sleep, and the little nursemaid, so soundly that they all but died under her reproaches.
Then Admiral Chapeau-Pointu, interrupting the queen, cried out: "Come, let us go after Fanfarinet. There can be no doubt but this rascal has run away with our princess." Everybody clapped their hands at this, saving: "Let us go "Some embarked by sea, others went by land from kingdom to kingdom, beating drums, and sounding trumpets, and when people gathered round them, they would cry: "Whoever wants to gain a beautiful doll, pots of preserves (dry or liquid), a pair of scissors, a gilded robe, a fine satin cap, has only to tell us where the Princess Mayblossom is who was stolen away by Fanfarinet." But every man answered: "Go elsewhere, we have not seen them". Those who pursued the princess by sea were more fortunate, for after sailing for a long time they saw one night something shining before them like a great fire. They dared not come near it, not knowing what it might be, but all at once this light seemed to land on the desert Isle of Squirrels.
In truth it was no other than the princess and her lover, and it was the carbuncle they had seen shining, Mayblossom and Fanfarinet disembarked, and after having given a hundred golden crowns to the good man who had brought them, they bade him farewell, making him swear by the eyes in his head to speak of nothing he had seen or heard. The first thing the boatman met was the king's vessels, which he had no sooner recognised than he tried to avoid. But the admiral sent a boat after him, and the good man was so aged and so weak that he had not strength to row fast enough. So coming up with him they brought him before the admiral, who had him searched. They found on him a hundred gold crowns quite new, for they had coined money for the princess's wedding-feast. The admiral questioned him, and so as not to be obliged to answer, he pretended he was deaf and dumb. "Very well," said the admiral, "tie this dumb man to the great mast, and give him a flogging. That is the best cure of all for the dumb." When the old man saw that he meant this, he confessed that a girl, more like an angel than a human creature, and a beautiful knight, had ordered him to take them to the desert Isle of Squirrels. Hearing this the admiral knew it must be the princess, and he sent his fleet to surround the island.
Meanwhile Mayblossom tired out by the sea, having found a green lawn under the shade of thick trees, lay down and fell quietly asleep. But Fanfarinet whose hunger was keener than his love, did not leave her long in peace. "Do you think, madam," he said, waking her up, "that I can remain long here? I see nothing to eat. Even were you fairer than the dawn, that hardly would suffice, for one must eat. My teeth are very long, and my stomach very empty." "What, Fanfarinet," she answered, "does not the affection I feel for you stand you in stead of everything? Is your mind not filled with your good fortune?" "With my misfortunes, rather," he cried. "I would to heaven you were still in your black tower!" "Sir Knight," she said, graciously, "I beg you, do not be angry. I shall go and search everywhere, and perhaps I may find some fruit." "I wish," he answered, "that you would find a wolf to eat you up!" The princess, in great distress, ran through the woods, tearing her pretty clothes with the briars, and her white skin with the thorns till she was all full of scratches as if she had been playing with cats. See what it is to fall in love-- only trouble comes of it. After having searched everywhere, she came back very sad to Fanfarinet, to tell him she had found nothing, but he turned his back on her, and went away muttering. Next day they searched again, but still all in vain, so that they were three days without eating anything but leaves and some cock chafers. The princess made no complaint, though she was very delicate. "I would not mind," she said, "if I suffered by myself, and I should not care though I died of hunger, provided you had enough to eat." "It would be all the same to me," he answered, "whether you died or not, provided I had what I want." "Is it possible," she asked, "that my death would make so little difference to you? Are these the oaths you made me?" "There is a great difference," he answered, "between a man when he is comfortable, and neither hungry nor thirsty, and an unfortunate wretch like to die on a desert island." "I am in the same danger,". she said, "and I make no complaint." "It would ill become you to do so," he replied, harshly. "You wished to leave your father and mother, and go gadding up and down. Well, here we are, in a nice place too!" "But it was for love of you, Fanfarinet," she said, holding out her hand. "I could have done without that,' he answered, and then he turned his back on her.
The beautiful princess, overcome with grief, began to cry so bitterly that she would have moved a stone to pity. She sat down near a bush covered with red and white roses. After having looked at them for some time, she said: "How happy you are, young flowers. The zephyrs caress you, the dew moistens you, the sun brings you beauty, the bees love you, the thorns defend you. Everybody admires you. Alas! why should you be happier than I?" At these thoughts she shed so many tears that the root of the rose tree was quite wet. Then she was much astonished to see that the hush was moving, and the roses opening out, and that the fairest of them all said: "If you had not fallen in love, your lot would be as desirable as mine. Whoever loves is exposed to the utmost dangers. Poor princess, take the honeycomb you will find in the hollow of yonder tree. But do not be so foolish as to give it to Fanfarinet." Off she ran to the tree, not knowing yet whether she was dreaming or whether she was really awake. She found the honey, and as soon as she had done so, she took it to her ungrateful lover. "Here," she said, "is a honeycomb. If I had liked I might have eaten it all by myself, but I would rather share it with you." With out a word of thanks, without even a look, he tore it out of her hands, and ate the whole of it, refusing to give her one little morsel, even adding mockery to his cruelty, saying it was too sweet, that it would spoil her teeth, and a hundred other like taunts.
Mayblossom, still more distressed, sat down below an oak, and spoke to it very much as she had done to the rose tree, the oak, moved with pity, lowered some of its branches and said: "It would be a pity were you to die, Mayblossom. Take this pitcher of milk and drink it, and don't give a drop to that ungrateful lover of yours." The princess, very much astonished, looked behind and saw a large pitcher of milk. Her only thought at the moment was of Fanfarinet's thirst after having eaten more than fifteen pounds of honey, and she ran with her pitcher to him. "Drink, my beautiful Fanfarinet," she said, "and don't forget to leave me some, for I am dying of hunger and thirst." But he snatched it roughly from her, drank all the milk up at a single draught, then throwing the pitcher on the stones, broke it in pieces, saying, with a mocking smile: "Those who have eaten nothing are not thirsty". The princess clasped her hands, and lifting her beautiful eyes to heaven, she said: "I have deserved it. It is a punishment for having so rashly fallen in love with a man whom I do not know, for having run away with him, forgetting my rank, and the misfortune with which Carabosse threatened me." Then she began to cry again more bitterly than ever she had done in her life, and plunging into the thickest part of the wood, she fell down from sheer weakness at the foot of an elm tree, on which a nightingale was perched and singing beautifully. Shaking his Wings he sang these words as if only for Mayblossom's benefit. He had learnt them out of Ovid on purpose:--
"Love is a traitor, then beware his guile;
For all his favours doth he ask a price;
Most full of danger when they most entice;
Deadliest the poison in his sweetest smile".
"Who can know that better than I do?" she cried, interrupting her, "Alas! I know only too well the sharpness of his arrows and the hardness of my lot." "Take courage," said the tender nightingale; "and search in this bush. You will find sugar-plums and tarts, but do not be so foolish as to give any to Fanfarinet." The princess had no need of this warning to keep them for herself. She had not yet forgotten the two last tricks he had played her, and besides, she was in great want of food, so she munched the sugar-plums and the tarts all by herself. Greedy Fanfarinet, seeing her eating without him, flew into such a temper that he ran towards her, his eyes flashing with anger, and his sword in his hand to kill her. In a moment she had uncovered the stone on her head-dress, which made her invisible, and going farther off she reproached him with his ingratitude, but in such a way as made him understand well enough that she could not yet bring herself to hate him.
Meanwhile Admiral Chapeau-Pointu had despatched John Caquet, courier-in-ordinary to the council, with his straw boots, to tell the king that the princess and Fanfarinet had landed in the Island of Squirrels, but that, not knowing the country, he feared there might be ambuscades. This news gave great satisfaction to their majesties, and the king sent for a great book, each leaf of which was eight ells in length. It was the masterpiece of a learned fairy, and in it was a description of the whole earth. He found from this book that the Isle of Squirrels was not inhabited. "Go," he said, therefore, to John Caquet, "and command the admiral on my behalf to land at once. He may well be very impatient at the thought of leaving my daughter so long with Fanfarinet, and at all events I am." As Soon as John Caquet had reached the fleet, the admiral ordered the drums to beat, and the timbals and the trumpets to sound, Haut boys, flutes, violins, hurdy-gurdies organs, guitars struck up. What a desperate noise they made! for every instrument of war or peace was heard throughout the whole island. At this noise the princess, in alarm, ran towards her lover to offer him help. He was not brave, and their common terror very quickly reconciled them. "Keep behind me," she said. "I shall walk in front, and uncovering the invisible stone, I shall take my father's dagger and kill a part of our enemies while you kill the others with your sword." So the invisible princess stepped forward amidst the soldiers, and she and Fanfarinet killed them all with out being seen. Nothing was heard but cries of "I am dead!" "I am dying!" It was in vain the soldiers drew their swords, they could touch nothing, for the princess and her lover ducked down every time, and the blows passed over their heads. At last the admiral, in great trouble at losing so many men in such an extraordinary way, without knowing who were their assailants, nor how to defend himself, beat a retreat, and returned to his ship to hold a council.
The night being already far advanced, the princess and Fanfarinet took refuge in the thickest part of the wood. She was so tired that she lay clown on the grass, and was just falling asleep when she heard a little soft voice whispering in her ear: "Run, Mayblossom, for Fanfarinet is going to kill and eat you". Quickly opening her eves, she saw by the light of the carbuncle the wicked Fanfarinet's arm raised ready to plunge his sword into her bosom. For seeing how plump and white she was, and being very hungry, he wished to kill and eat her. She did not hesitate long as to what she should do, hut quietly drawing her dagger, which she had kept ever since the battle, she stabbed him so furiously in the eve that he died on the spot. "There, you ungrateful wretch," she cried, "take this last favour from my hands, the one you have best deserved! Be an example to all false lovers in time to come; and may your faithless soul never rest in peace!"
When the first heat of her anger was past, and she thought of her situation, she was nearly as lifeless as he whom she had just killed. "What will become of me?" she cried, weeping. "I am all alone in this island. Wild beasts will Come and devour me, or I shall die of hunger." She was almost sorry she had not allowed Fanfarinet to eat her. All of a tremble she sat down, waiting and longing for the light, for she was afraid of ghosts, and especially of goblins. She was leaning against a tree, peering through the darkness, when she saw on one side a grand golden chariot, drawn by six great, tufted hens. The coachman was a cock, and the postillion a fat chicken. In the chariot there was a lady, so very, very beautiful, that she seemed like the sun. Her dress was all embroidered with gold spangles and silver bars. And another chariot she saw, to which six bats were harnessed. The coachman was a raven, and the postillion a black-beetle. And in this chariot was a hideous little monster, dressed in serpent skin, and on her head for a top knot was a great toad. Never, never was anyone so astonished as the young princess. As she was looking at these wonders, she saw the chariots advance suddenly to meet each other, and the fair lady holding a golden lance, the hideous imp a rusty pike, they began a stern combat, which lasted more than a quarter of an hour. At last the beautiful lady was victorious, and the ugly one flew away with her bats. At that moment the beauty stepped down on the ground and addressed Mayblossom.
"Do not fear, dear princess," she said, "that I have come here for any other reason than to do you a service, The combat I have had with Carabosse was all for love of you. She wished to have authority to beat you because you came out of the tower four days before the twenty years. But you saw how I took your part, and that I chased her away. Enjoy the happiness therefore which I have gained for you." The grateful princess fell down before her. "Great Queen of the Fairies," she said, "your generosity delights me. I do not know how to thank you, but I feel that there is not a drop of the blood which you have just saved which is not at your service." The fairy kissed her three times, and made her still more beautiful than she had been before--if that were possible. She ordered the cock to go to the king's ships, and to tell the admiral he might come without fear. Then she sent the fat chicken. to her palace, to fetch the most beautiful dresses in the world for Mayblossom. The admiral hearing the cock's news, was so delighted that he nearly died of joy. He hastened to the isle with his men, and even John Caquet seeing how everyone hurried as they landed from the ships, hurried too, like the others, bearing on his shoulder a spit loaded with game. Hardly had Admiral Chapeau-Pointu gone a league when he saw on the high road the chariot and the hens, and the two ladies in it. He recognised the princess, and went and flung himself at her feet, but she said that all the honour was due to the generous fairy, who had saved her from the clutches of Carabosse. So he made her the prettiest speech that was ever spoken on a like occasion. While he was talking, the fairy interrupted him, crying "I swear I smell roast beef". "Yes, madam," answered John Caquet, showing the spit laden with the fine birds. "If your highness would but taste them?" "Very willingly," she said, "but less for my own sake than for the princess's, who is in much need of a good meal." So they sent off at once to the ships for all that was necessary, and the joy of having found the princess again, added to the good cheer, left nothing to wish for.
The repast being over, and the fat chicken come back, the fairy dressed Mayblossom in a dress of green and gold brocade, sprinkled with rubies and pearls. She tied her fair hair with cords of diamonds and emeralds, and crowned her with flowers, and when she made her get into her chariot, all the stars that saw her passing thought it was the dawn that had not yet disappeared, and they greeted her in passing with "All hail Aurora".
After the fairy and the princess had bidden each other a tender farewell Mayblossom said "And, madam, shall I not tell the queen, my mother, who has done me all this kindness?" "Fair princess," she answered, "kiss her for me, and tell her I am the fifth fairy who brought you a gift at your birth." When the princess was in the vessel they fired all the guns, and sent off endless rockets. She reached port quite safely, and found the king and queen waiting for her ready to greet her with so much kindness that they gave her no time to ask them to forgive her foolish conduct in the past, though she meant to throw herself at their feet as soon as she had seen them. But the tenderness of her parents prevented her, and they put all the blame on old Carabosse.
Just at that moment the son of the great king arrived, anxious at not having received any news from his ambassador. He had a thousand horses, and thirty lackeys gaily dressed in red with fine gold braid, and he was a hundred times lovelier than the false Fanfarinet. They took care not to tell him the story of the princess's adventures, for that might have made him somewhat suspicious. They told him very gravely that his ambassador being thirsty, and going to draw water to drink, had fallen into the well and got drowned. He had no difficult in believing this, and the marriage was celebrated amidst joy so great as to blot out entirely the remembrance of past sorrows.