THERE was once a king whose temper was so austere and morose that all who knew him feared rather than loved him. Very rarely did he show himself; and on the slightest suspicion he would put his subjects to death. And because he was always frowning they called him King Sombre. Now King Sombre had a son who was not in the least like him. There was no other prince in the world so clever, or so gentle, or so generous, or of such various talents. But his legs were crooked; he had a hump higher than his head; his eyes squinted, and his mouth was awry. In short, he was a little monstrosity, and never was so fair a soul the light of so hideous a body. Yet by some strange chance he made himself beloved by all whom he cared to please; and in intelligence he was so much superior to anyone else that no one could hear him talk without being interested. The queen, his mother, wished to call him Torticoli, either because she liked the name, or because, on account of his crookedness, she thought she had hit on the aptest name possible. King Sombre, who thought more of his own greatness than the happiness of his son, cast his eyes on the daughter of a powerful king, one of his neighbours, whose states, if added to his own, would make him formidable throughout the earth. He thought this princess a most fitting match for Prince Torticoli, inasmuch as she would never be able to reproach him for deformity and ugliness, being herself at least as ugly and deformed as he was. She used always to go about in a kind of bowl, for her legs were broken. Her name was Trognon. For all her defects she was the most lovable creature in the world, and it seemed as if heaven had wished to give her compensation for the wrong that nature had done her.
King Sombre asked for and obtained the picture of the Princess Trognon, and placed it in a great hail under a canopy. Then he sent for Prince Torticoli, and commanded him to look on the portrait with favour, since it was Trognon's, and she was to be his wife. Torticoli glanced at it, and then turned away his eyes with a scornful air that displeased his father. "Are you not satisfied?" he asked, in a bitter, angry tone. "No, sire," he answered. "I should never be satisfied to marry a crippled deformity like her." "It is indeed most fitting for you to point out the faults in this princess," said King Sombre, "a hideous little monster like you, whose very look frightens people." "That is the very reason," said the prince, "why I do not wish to wed with just such another monster. It is enough to have to endure the sight of myself. What would it be were there a whole tribe of us?" "You are afraid lest the race of monsters be perpetuated?" said the king, in an angry tone. "Well, your fears are of no avail, for you shall marry her. It is enough that I command. It is your part to obey." Torticoli answered nothing, hut with a deep bow' he left the hail.
King Sombre was not accustomed to the slightest resistance to his wishes, and his son's put him into a fearful temper. So he shut him up in a tower built expressly for rebel princes. But there had been none there for two hundred years, so everything about it was in very bad repair, and all the rooms and the furniture seemed to he very old. The prince, who was very fond of reading, asked for books, so they let him take some from the library in the tower. At first he thought that this permission was all that was necessary, but when he tried to read them he found they were in a tongue so ancient that he did not understand a word of it. He put them aside, but afterwards he took them up again, trying to make out something of their contents, or at least to amuse himself. King Sombre, feeling sure that Torticoli would get tired of prison, acted as if the prince had given his consent to marry Trognon, and sent ambassadors to the neighbouring king asking for the hand of his daughter, to whom he promised perfect happiness. Trognon's father was delighted to find such a good chance of marrying her, for it was not everybody who would be willing to take on himself the care of the deformed creature. So he accepted King Sombre's proposal, though, to tell the truth, the portrait of Torticoli, which they had brought, did not strike him as very attractive. It also was placed in a magnificent gallery, and Trognon was sent for. As soon as she saw it she lowered her eyes and began to cry. Her father, very angry at the evident dislike she showed, took a mirror, and placing it in front of her, said "You weep, my daughter? Well, look at yourself, and be convinced after that that you have nothing to weep for." "If I were in any hurry to get married, sire," she answered, "I should perhaps be to blame for my fastidiousness; but I would rather bear my troubles all alone.
I do not wish to share with anyone the misery of looking on my face. Let me remain my whole life long unhappy Princess Trognon. I shall be content; at least I shall make no complaint." No matter how reasonable were her words the king would not listen to them, and she had to go with the ambassadors who had come for her.
While she is travelling in a litter, like the poor deformed stump she is, let us go back to the tower and see what the prince is doing. None of his keepers dared speak to him, for they had been told to weary him out, to give him bad food, and to exhaust his patience by every kind of cruel treatment. And King Sombre knew how to make people obey him--if not from love, then from fear. But the guards' affection for the prince was very great, and they found means to ease some part of his sufferings. One day when he was walking in a large gallery, thinking sadly of the unhappy lot which had made him so ugly, so unsightly, and which had thrown in his way a princess still more so, he cast his eyes on the windows, which were painted in very bright colours and fine designs. Having a great love for such works of art, he set about examining this one. But he could not understand the subject, for it dealt with things gone by ages since. But one figure particularly struck him--a man so like himself that it might have been his own portrait. This man was in the donjon of the keep searching for something in the wall. There he found a golden screw, with which he opened a cabinet. There were many other things too which struck his imagination and on nearly all the windows he saw his own portrait. "By what strange chance," he said, "do I play a part in these scenes, seeing I was not born when they took place? And what put it into the painter's head to paint a man like me?" Then he saw on the windows a beautiful lady, with a face so full of intelligence that he could not take his eyes off her. There were, besides, endless different figures, and they were all so full of expression that he really thought that what was only represented by a mixture of colours was actually taking place under his own eyes. He did not leave the gallery till it was no longer light enough to distinguish the pictures, when he went back to his room he took up an old manuscript, the first that came to his hand. The leaves were of vellum, with illuminated borders, and the cover of gold, enamelled with blue and covered with ciphers. He was very much astonished to see in the book the same things that were on the windows of the gallery. He tried to read what was written, but found he could not. All at once he saw on one of the pages a picture of musicians singing, in another games of basset and tric-trac, cards being dealt and dice thrown. Turning over the vellum, there he saw an assembly where they were dancing, all the ladies grandly dressed and wonderfully beautiful. Turning over once more, he smelt the odour of a delicious repast, and there he saw little figures eating, the biggest not a quarter-inch high. One of them, turning towards the prince, said: "To your good health, Torticoli. Try to give us back our queen. If you do so, it will be well with you; if not, evil will befall you." At these words the prince was seized with terrible fear and he trembled so much that at length he let the book fall on one side while he himself fell to the other like a dead man. At the noise of his fall his guards came running. They loved him dearly, and they took every possible means of restoring him to consciousness. When he had recovered enough to speak, they asked him what was the matter. He told them they fed him so insufficiently that he had no strength, and that, having his head full of imaginings, he seemed to see and hear such astonishing things in this book that he had been seized with terror. His guards, in great distress, gave him food in spite of all King Sombre's orders to the contrary. When he had eaten, he took the book, and opening it again in their presence, he found nothing of what he had seen before, which convinced him that he had been mistaken.
Next day he returned to the gallery. Again he saw the paintings on the windows, and the person ages in them moved about, walked along paths, hunted stags and hares, fished, built little houses--for all the pictures were very small. And everywhere he saw his own portrait in a dress exactly like his own. The figure was going up to the donjon of the tower to find the golden screw. He thought to himself that as he had eaten well he could no longer suppose that all he saw was a mere vision. "This is too mysterious," he said, "for me to neglect any possible means of knowing more. Perhaps I shall learn something in the donjon." So he went up, and knocking against the wall, one spot seemed to him to give back a hollow sound. Taking a hammer he knocked the plaster down off this part, and found there a golden screw, very finely made. Still ignorant what use to put it to, he saw in a corner of the donjon an old cupboard of rotten wood. He tried to open it, but he could find no lock. No matter oil what side he turned it, it was quite useless. At last he saw a little hole, and having an idea that the screw would be useful here, he put it in. Then pulling energetically he opened the cupboard. But if it was old and ugly outside, I made up for it by its wonderful beauty inside. All the drawers were of cut rock crystal, or amber, or precious stones. When he had drawn out one, he found other smaller ones at the side, above, beneath, and at the back, divided from each other by mother-of-pearl partitions. Pulling out the mother and then tile drawers, he found each one filled with the most beautiful weapons in the world, splendid crowns and wonderful portraits. Prince Torticoli was de lighted, and went on pulling out more and more without stopping. At last he found a little key made of a single emerald with which he opened a little door at the back. He was dazzled by a brilliant carbuncle out of which a large box had been made. He drew out the box hastily, but what was his horror to find it full of blood, and a hand lying in it cut off at the wrist and holding a miniature case. At sight of this Torticoli shuddered, his hair stood on end, and his unsteady legs could hardly support him. Sitting down on the ground with the box still in his hand, but with his eyes turned away from so horrible an object, he had a great desire to put it back in the place from where he had taken it. He thought to himself that in all that had taken place up till now there had been something very mysterious. He remembered what the little figure in the book had said to him, that according to his conduct, evil or good would befall him, and he feared the future no less than the present. Reproaching himself after a time for a cowardice unworthy of a great soul, he made a strong effort, and fixing his eyes on the hand, he said: "O unfortunate hand! Can you not tell me your sad story by some signs? If I am able to serve you, you may rest assured of the generosity of my heart." At these words the hand appeared to be agitated, and moving its fingers, it made signs the sense of which he understood as well as if it had been spoken in articulate words. "You must know,' the hand said, "that you can be of the utmost use to him from whom cruel jealousy has separated me. In this portrait you see that beautiful lover for whom I sorrow. Go now at once into the gallery. Watch where the sun's rays strike most keenly. Look there and you will find my treasure." Then the hand stopped moving, and to the various questions the prince asked, it answered nothing. "Where shall I put you?" he asked. It made some signs which the prince understood to mean that it must be put back in the cupboard. This was done, everything was locked up again, the screw hidden in the same wall he had taken it from, and somewhat more at ease among all these wonders, he went down to the gallery. When he entered, the windows began to rattle and shake in an extraordinary fashion. Looking where the sunbeams were striking, he saw it was on the portrait of a young man, so handsome and with so distinguished an air that it was pleasant to look on him. Raising this picture, he found an ebony panel with gilt mouldings as in the rest of the gallery. He did not know how to take out the panel or even whether he should take it out at all. Looking at the windows, he found that the wainscot could slide up, and raising it at once, he found himself in a vestibule made of porphyry, and decorated with statues. He mounted a wide staircase made of agate, the balustrade of which was of worked gold, and entered a salon made of lapis lazuli. Then walking through endless apartments, where the excellence of the pictures and the richness of the furniture delighted him, he reached at last a little room where all the ornaments were of turquoise. There on a bed of blue gauze and gold he saw a lady who seemed to be asleep. Her beauty was marvellous. Her hair blacker than ebony showed off the whiteness of her skin. She seemed to be restless in her sleep; her face had a wearied look as if she were ill. The prince fearing to awake her, stepped forward softly. She was speaking, and listening eagerly to what she said, he heard these few words, broken by sighs: "Do you think, traitor, that I can love you, after you have taken my dear Trasimene away from me? What! before my very eyes you dared to separate that clear hand from that mighty arm? Is it thus you think to prove to me your respect and your love? All, Trasimene, dear lover, shall I never see you any more?" The prince noticed that her tears sought a passage between her closed eyelids, moistening her cheeks like the morning dew.
He stayed at the foot of her bed without moving, not knowing whether he ought to awake her or leave her longer in a sleep in which she seemed so unhappy. He had gathered that Trasimene was her lover, and that it was his hand he had found in the donjon. A thousand conflicting thoughts were rushing through his mind, when he heard the sound of sweet music, the mingled song of nightingales and canaries, blending so exquisitely as to surpass the most charming human voices. At that moment an eagle of an extraordinary size came in, flying slowly through the air, and holding in its claws a golden branch laden with rubies in the shape of cherries. It looked fixedly at the sleeping beauty, and seemed to see in her its sun, and spreading out its great wings hovered before her, now rising, now falling again to her feet. After some minutes it turned to wards the prince, and coming forward placed in his hand the golden branch with the cherries. Then the singing birds sent out such melody as pierced the vaults of the palace. The prince was so watchful of everything that took place that he felt sure the lady was enchanted, and that the honour of some glorious adventure was reserved for him. Going up to her he knelt down, and touching her with the branch he said "Fair and charming lady, who sleep by some power unknown to me, I conjure you to wake up again to life and action". The lady, opening her eyes and seeing the eagle, cried "Stay, dear lover, stay"; but the royal bird uttered a sharp and painful cry, and flew away with his little feathered songsters. The lady then turning to Torticoli, said: "It is my heart rather than my gratitude that now speaks I know that I owe you everything, and that you are bringing me back to the light I have not seen for two hundred years. The enchanter who loved me, and who brought so many misfortunes on me, has reserved this great adventure for you. It is in my power to serve you, and I have the greatest desire to do so. Tell me what are your desires and I shall employ the fairy art, which is mine in the highest degree, to make you happy." "Madam," answered the prince, "if your knowledge enables you to divine the feelings of the heart, you must know that in spite of the misfortunes that have been heaped on me, I am less to be pitied than another might be." "That is because you have resources in your mind," said the fairy, "but in any case do not force on me the shame of ingratitude. What do you wish for? I can do everything, so ask." "I desire," said Torticoli, "that the handsome Trasimene, for whom you sigh, shall be restored to you." "You are too generous," she answered, "to prefer my interests to your own. This great affair will be achieved by someone else--a lady. I will say no more at present. Only be certain that she will not be indifferent to you. But do not any longer refuse me the pleasure of being of use to you. What are your wishes?" "Madam," said the prince, throwing himself at her feet, "you see my hideous face. I am called Torticoli, in mockery. Make me less ridiculous." "Go, my prince," said the fairy, touching him three times with the golden branch, "go; you will be so accomplished, so perfect, that never man in times past or time to come will be your equal. Call yourself hence forth Peerless, for that name will be yours with just right." The prince, in gratitude, embraced her knees, and by a silence which expressed his joy, left her to guess what was passing in his mind. She made him get up, and when he looked at himself in the mirrors that adorned the room, Peerless no longer recognised Torticoli. He was three feet taller. His hair fell in thick curls on his shoulders. He looked all dignity and grace. His features were regular his eyes full of intelligence. In short, his person was a piece of workmanship worthy of a kind and tender-hearted fairy. "Why may I not reveal to you your destiny, tell you of the obstacles that fortune will place in your way, and teach you how to avoid them? How delighted I should be to add this service to 'hat I have just done you, but I should be displeasing the higher genius who is guiding you. Go, prince, flee from the tower, and remember that the Fairy Goodheart will always be your friend." At these words she herself, the palace, and the wonders the prince had seen, disappeared, and he found himself in a thick forest, more than a hundred leagues from the tower, where King Sombre had imprisoned him.
Let us leave him to recover from his natural astonishment while we look on at two other scenes. Let us find out what is going on amongst the guards whom his father had sent to watch him, and what is happening to Princess Trognon. The poor guards, astonished that the prince did not ask for Supper, entered his room, and not finding him, they searched for him everywhere, terribly afraid lest he should have escaped. Their trouble being all in vain, they were in despair, for they feared that King Sombre who was so cruel would put them to death. After having discussed all the possible ways of appeasing his anger, they came to the conclusion that one of them should go to bed and hide his face, while they would say that the prince was very ill. Shortly afterwards they would pretend he was dead, and they would bury a log and this would get them out of the difficulty. The plan seemed to them perfect, and at once they set about carrying it out. The shortest of the guards had a great hump fastened on to him and went to bed. Then they told the king that his son was very ill, but he thought they only said so to work on his feelings, and he refused to relax any of his severity. This was just what the terrified guards wanted, and the more they pretended to urge him the more indifference did King Sombre show.
As for Princess Trognon, she arrived in a little vehicle no higher than your arm, and which was carried in a litter. King Sombre went to meet her. When he san' how deformed she was, and how she sat a bowl, her skin covered with scales like a codfish, her eyebrows that met each other, her large, flat nose, her mouth stretching round to her ears, he could not help saying: "In truth, Princess Trognon, it is very fitting that you should despise my Torticoli! I confess he is very ugly, but, to tell the truth, he is not so ugly as you." "Your majesty," she answered, "I am not vain enough to take offence at any disagreeable things you may say to me. Perhaps you do so as a sure means of persuading me to love your charming Torticoli: but I declare to you that in spite of my miserable bowl and my many faults, I do not wish to marry him, and I prefer to be Princess Trognon rather than Queen Torticoli." King Sombre was very angry at this answer. "I assure you,' he said, "that I will have no contradiction. The king, your father, should be your master, and he has placed you in my hands." "There are things," she answered, "in which we have the power of choice. It has been against my will that I have been brought here, I give you warning, and I shall look upon you as my worst enemy if you force me to consent." The king, still more angry, left her. She was given an apartment in the palace, where she was waited on by ladies who received orders to convince her that her best part was to marry the prince.
Meanwhile the guards, who feared lest they should be discovered and that the king should come to know that his son had escaped, hastened to tell him he was dead. Hearing this, he was overcome by a grief of which they had not thought him capable. He cried, he shrieked, and venging himself on Trognon for his loss, he sent her to the tower in the place of his dear, lost son. The poor princess's grief was as great as her astonishment when she found herself a prisoner. She was full of spirit, and she spoke her mind respecting so cruel a proceeding, hoping they would repeat her words to the king; but no one dared to speak to him on the subject. She thought, too, she could write to her father about the bad treatment she received, and then he would come and deliver her; but her attempts in this direction were useless, for they intercepted her letters and gave them to King Sombre. So long as she lived in hopes that her letters would bring her help, she was in less distress, and every day she walked in the gallery to look at the pictures on the windows. Nothing surprised her more than the number of different things which were there represented, and to see pictures of herself in her bowl. "Since I have been in this country," she said, "the painters have taken a strange pleasure in painting me. Are there not enough ridiculous faces without mine?' Or do they wish by placing mine near that young charming shepherdess to enhance her beauty still more by contrasting her with me?" Then she looked at the portrait of a shepherd who was beautiful beyond description. "How much is anyone to be pitied," she said, "nature has treated as badly as she has done me! And how happy it must make one to be beautiful!" As she said this the tears stood in her eyes, and catching a glimpse of herself in a mirror, she turned away abruptly. Suddenly to her astonishment she saw behind her a little old woman with a hood on her head, who was even uglier than herself, while the howl in which she dragged herself along was worn out and full of holes. "Princess," said the old woman, "the choice is given you between virtue and beauty. I have been listening to your touching laments. If you desire beauty, you will be coquettish, vain, and very gay. If you choose to remain as you are, you will he good, respected, and very humble-minded." Trognon looked at the old woman who spoke to her, and asked her if beauty was incompatible with goodness. "No," said the good woman to her, "hut so far as you are concerned, it is decreed that you can only have one of them." "Well," said Trognon, in a firm voice, "I prefer my ugliness to beauty." "What! you prefer to frighten those who look at you?" asked the old woman. "Yes, madam," said the princess. "I would rather have every misfortune in the world than fail in virtue." "I have brought my yellow and white muff on purpose," said the fairy. "if you blow on the yellow side, you will be like that beautiful shepherdess whom you thought so charming, and be loved by a shepherd whose portrait you have looked at more than once. If you blow on the white side, you will be strengthened in the path of virtue on which you now set out so courageously." "Ah! madam," answered the princess, "do not refuse me this favour, It will console me for all the contempt I have had poured on me." So the little old woman gave her the muff of virtue and beauty. And Trognon made no mistake, but blowing on the white side, thanked the fairy, who vanished immediately.
Trognon was delighted at the good choice she had made; and however much she might envy the incomparable beauty of the shepherdess on the painted windows, she consoled herself by thinking that beauty passes like a dream that virtue is an everlasting and unchangeable treasure which endures longer than life. She still had hopes that the king, her father, would head a great army, and come and take her away from the tower. She waited the moment of his coming with the utmost impatience, and was dying to mount to the turret to see him arrive with the help she looked for. But how could she climb so high? She crawled about in her room more slowly than a tortoise, and when at any time she wanted to mount anywhere, her women had to carry her. However she hit on a very original plan. Knowing the clock was in the turret, she took the weights off and put herself in their place. When they wound up the clock, she was hoisted to the top. Once there, she looked hastily through the window over the country, but seeing nothing coming, she drew back to rest a little. While she was leaning up against the wall that Torticoli, or, as we should say, Prince Peerless, had broken down and built up again rather badly, the plaster fell and so did the golden screw, rattling on the floor near Trognon. Seeing it, she picked it up and examined it to find out if it were any use to her. Now, as she was very clever, she saw quickly enough that it was meant to open the cupboard which had no lock. She succeeded in doing this, and was no less delighted than the prince had been on finding all the rare and beautiful things it contained. There were four thousand drawers, all filled with jewels, antique and modern. At last she found the little golden door, the carbuncle box, and the hand swimming in blood. Shuddering, she would have cast it away from her, but it was not in her power to let it go, for a secret attraction prevented her. "Alas!" she said in distress, "I would rather die than remain longer with this hand.' But in a moment she heard a sweet, pleasant voice that said to her: "Take courage, princess; your happiness depends on this adventure". "Ah, what can I do?" she asked, trembling. "You must take this hand into your own room," said the voice, "hide it under your pillow, and when you see an eagle, give it to him without a moment's delay." However frightened the princess was, the voice had something so persuasive about it that she did not hesitate to obey; and so she put back the treasures and curiosities as she had found them without taking a single one. Her guards, who feared that she too had escaped, searched for her, and were very much astonished to find her in a place where she could not, they said, have reached except by enchantment. She was three days without seeing anything of importance. She dared not open the beautiful carbuncle box, for the bleeding hand terrified her too much. At last one night hearing a noise against the window, she drew aside her curtain, and saw by the light of the moon an eagle flying about. She rose as quickly as she could, and dragging herself along the floor, she opened the window. The eagle entered, flapping its wings noisily, as if to express delight. Without a moment's hesitation she gave him the hand, which he seized with his claws, and was gone. In his place was a young man, the handsomest and the comeliest that ever was seen. His brow was wreathed with a diadem, his dress was covered with jewels, and in his hand he held a portrait. It was he who spoke first. "Princess," he said to Trognon, "for two hundred years a wicked enchanter has imprisoned me here. We both of us loved the wonderful Fairy Goodheart [for that is the name of my queen]. She favoured me, and he was jealous. His art was greater than mine, and he determined to use it for my ruin. So he told me in a masterful manner that he forbade me to see her any more. Such a command was not in accord either with my love or with my rank, so I defied him; and the fair lady I adore was so offended with the enchanter's conduct, that in her turn she forbade him ever to come near her again. Then the cruel wretch determined to punish us both. One day when I was with her, in great delight because of a portrait she had given me, and that I was looking at, but thinking it not a thousandth part so beautiful as the original, he appeared, and with a blow from his sabre cut my hand from my arm. Fairy Goodheart felt the pain more keenly than myself, and fell fainting on her bed. All at once I saw I was covered with feathers, and I was changed into an eagle. Every day I was allowed to see the queen, but I could not come near her, nor awake her. I only had the consolation of hearing her uttering constant sighs, and speaking of her dear Trasimene. I also knew that at the end of two hundred years a prince would call back Goodheart to the light of day, and that a princess by restoring me my hand would give me back my former shape. A fairy, who is interested in your fame, has arranged it in this way. It was she who so carefully locked up my hand in the cupboard in the donjon, she who has given me the power to-day of expressing to you my gratitude. Say, princess, what would give you most pleasure, and it shall be yours at the moment." "Great king," answered Trognon, after some moments of silence, "if I do not reply at once, it is not because I am in doubt as to my desires, hut I confess to you that I am little used to such astonishing adventures, and I think it must be a dream rather than a reality." "No, madam," answered Trasimene, "it is no dream. You will see the results of it as soon as you tell me the gifts you wish for," "If I asked all those I stand in need of to make me perfect," she said, "however powerful you may be, it would be difficult to satisfy me. But I really care only for the most essential. Therefore make my soul as beautiful as my body is ugly and deformed." "Ah, princess," cried King Trasimene, "you delight me by a choice so good and worthy. Therefore your body will become as beautiful as your soul and mind." He touched the princess with the portrait of the fairy. She heard her bones go crack, crack. They stretched out, they fitted into their right places. She stood up, tall, beautiful, straight, her skin whiter than milk, her features regular, her bearing at once dignified and modest, her face refined and pleasant. "What wonder is this!" she cried. "Is this I? Is it possible?" "Yes, madam," replied Trasimene, "it is you. The wise choice you made of goodness has brought about the happy change you now experience. What a pleasure for me, after what I owe you, to be destined to help towards it! But now cast away for ever the name of Trognon, and take that of Radiant instead, for you are worthy of it, from your brilliancy and your charms." At that moment he disappeared, and the princess, without knowing by what means she had come, found herself at the edge of a little river, in a shady place, the pleasantest that could anywhere be found.
She had not yet seen herself; but now the water of this stream was so clear, that looking in it, she saw with the greatest surprise, that she was the same shepherdess whom she had admired so much in the windows of the gallery. In truth, like her, she had a white dress trimmed with fine lace, the prettiest ever a shepherdess wore; her girdle was of little roses and jasmine, her hair adorned with flowers. Close to her hand she found a crook, painted and gilded, while a flock of sheep were feeding along the bank. The sheep dog hearing her voice seemed to know her and came up and fawned on her. What could she think of all these fresh wonders! She had been born, and till now she had lived, the ugliest creature imaginable, but then she was a princess. Now she was fairer than the morning star, but she was only a shepherdess; and the loss of her rank she could not but feel somewhat. Worn out by these different thoughts at last she fell asleep. She had been awake all night, as I have already said, and the journey she had taken, although she had not known it, was a hundred leagues long. So she was rather tired. Her sheep and her dog gathered at her side, seemed to be keeping watch over her, and giving her the care she owed to them. The sun could not scorch her though it shone ever so brightly, for the leafy trees protected her, and the delicate, fresh grass on which she had lain down, seemed as if it were proud of so fair a load.
Here the violets thickest bloom
Peeping from their hiding places,
See them lift their little faces,
Breathing out their sweet perfume.
The birds sang together in sweet harmony, and the zephyrs held their breath for fear they should awake her. A shepherd tired out by the heat of the sun, having espied the spot from far off, made for it as quickly as possible, but seeing young Radiant he was so astonished that had it not been for a tree to lean against, he would have fallen on the ground. In truth he recognised her as the same maiden whose beauty he had admired in the gallery windows and in the vellum book: for the reader of course has guessed that the shepherd was Prince Peerless. Some unknown attraction had kept him in this country, and he had been admired by all who had seen him, and among the shepherds he was no less distinguished by his skill in everything, his handsome face, his quick wit, than he had formerly been by his birth. He gazed on Radiant with an eagerness and delight he had never felt till now. He knelt before her, examined all the different points that made of her such a perfect whole, and his heart was the first to pay that tribute which no one since has been able to refuse. While he stayed dreaming near her, Radiant woke up, and seeing Peerless by her side in gay shepherd's dress, she looked at him, and recalled him, for she had seen his portrait in the tower. "Fair shepherdess," he said, "what happy fate has led you here? You come, doubtless, to receive our incense and our vows. Ah, already I feel that I shall be the first to pay my homage." "No, shepherd," she said, "I have no wish to claim honours that are not due to me. I wish to remain a simple shepherdess for I love my flock and my dog. Solitude has charms for me. I seek for nothing else." "What! young shepherdess, in coming to this spot, you mean to hide yourself from those who dwelt here? Is it possible," he went on, "that you are so evilly disposed towards us? At least, except me, since I am first to offer my services." "No," replied Radiant, "I do not wish to see you oftener than the others, though already I have an unaccountable feeling of respect for you. But tell me of some good shepherdess with whom I can find a home, for being unknown here, and of an age when I cannot dwell alone, I shall be very glad to have her protection." Peerless was delighted with this commission, and took her to a neat little cabin, charming in its simplicity. There dwelt a little old woman, who very rarely went out, because she could hardly walk. "See, good mother," said Peerless, leading Radiant forward, here I bring you an incomparable damsel, whose very presence will make you young again." The old woman embraced her, and said in a pleasant voice that she was welcome, that she was sorry to lodge her so poorly, but that at least she would lodge her very well in her heart. "I did not think,' said Radiant, "I should find here so kind a welcome and such courtesy. I assure you, good mother, I am delighted to be with you. Do not refuse," she added, turning to the shepherd, "to tell me your name, so that I may know to whom I am obliged for this service. '"My name is Peerless," answered the prince, "but at present I do not wish to be called anything but your slave." "And as for me," said the little, old woman, "I wish to know the name of the shepherdess whose host I am." The princess said she was called Radiant, and the old woman seemed charmed with so lovely a name, while Peerless said a hundred pretty things on the subject.
The old shepherdess, fearing lest Radiant should be hungry, brought her a shining earthen vessel, some sweet milk, some brown bread, fresh eggs, newly churned butter, and cream cheese. Peerless ran to his hut, and brought strawberries, nuts, cherries, and other fruits, all garnished with flowers; and to have the chance of staying longer with Radiant he asked her permission to eat with her. Alas! it would have been difficult to refuse him. She had great pleasure in his company, and however cold she pretended to be she knew quite well that her presence was not a matter of indifference to Peerless.
When he had left her she sat thinking of him for a long time, while his mind was full of her. He saw her every day when he led his flocks into the same pasture where hers were feeding, and where he sang love songs to her. He played the flute and the pipes for her to dance to, which she did with such grace and accuracy as filled him with admiration. Now each of them was thinking a great deal of the series of astonishing adventures which had happened to them, and they both began to be uneasy. Peerless never left her alone if he could help it.
Wherever Radiant went he followed fast,
And while beseeching looks on her he cast,
All the delights and charms of love he told.
Such burning passion could not leave her cold.
But fearing danger, though she knew not why,
She fled whene'er the shepherd she did spy.
'Tis hard to flee when pleasure is in staying--
Peerless had watched at times her eyes betraying
Far other thoughts than hate. But now in vain
He seeks to win some tender look again.
She avoided him with the utmost care, and reproached herself endlessly for her affection for him. "What!" she said, "I am so unhappy as to be in love, and that with a miserable shepherd! What a sad fate is mine! I preferred goodness to beauty, yet it seems heaven in rewarding me for this choice, has made me beautiful, but only for my misfortune. Without these vain attractions, this shepherd that I hide from would never have set himself to please me, and I should not have the shame of blushing for my feelings towards him." Her tears left her always filled with sad thoughts, and she was the more troubled at seeing the misery of her dear shepherd.
He too was overcome with melancholy He wished to declare to Radiant the greatness of his birth, in the hopes that she would be perhaps influenced by vanity', and would listen to him more willingly. But after all he thought she might not believe him, and if she asked for some proof, he had no means of giving her such. "How cruel is my lot!" he cried. "Although before I was hideous to look at, at all events I was my father's heir, and a great kingdom makes up for many faults. Now it would be useless to present myself either to him or to his subjects, for none of them would recognise me, and all the kind Fairy Goodheart has done for me in taking away' my name and my ugliness, ends in making me a shepherd, and placing me under the spell of an unkind shepherdess who cannot endure me. O cruel star," he said with a sigh, "shine on me with more favour, or give me back my deformity and with it my former carelessness."
Such were the sad laments of the lover and his mistress, each ignorant of the truth about the other. But one day when Radiant had been doing her best to keep out of Peerless's way, he on the contrary had made up his mind to speak to her, and to have a pretext which should not offend her. So he took a little lamb, decked it with ribbons and flowers, put a collar of coloured straw on it, worked so beautifully that it was a little master-piece. He himself had a mantle of rose taffeta, trimmed with English lace. Thus with his crook decked with ribbons and his scrip slung over his shoulder, all the Aladdins in the world would have made but a poor show beside him.
He found Radiant sitting on the bank of a stream, which flowed slowly' through the thickest part of the wood. Her sheep were scattered here and there, for the melancholy' of the shepherdess prevented her caring for them. Peerless greeted her timidly, giving her the little lamb, and looking at her tenderly'. "What have I done, fair shepherdess," he said, "to be so marked out for your hatred? You blame your eyes if they' so much as look at me, and you seek to flee me. Is my love for you such a crime? Can you ever hope to be loved with more purity' or faithfulness? Have not my words and my actions shown my respect and the warmth of my feeling? But doubtless you love some one else. Your heart already' belongs to another." But she answered him:--
"Shepherd, list, an you would know
Why henceforth I flee you,
My poor heart is troubled so,
When my eyes do see you.
"If, perchance I loved you less
Hardly would I hide me,
But since all my looks confess,
I fear what may betide me.
"Duty I would bid begone
While you near me hover;
Slowly drag the footsteps on
When one flees a lover.
"Fare you 'veil, and, for my peace,
Fare you well for ever!
Leaving you, my life may cease,
Yet--here our ways must sever."
And so saying, Radiant moved away. The prince, full of love and despair would have followed her, but his grief became so great that he fell unconscious at the foot of a tree. Ah, severe and too-timid virtue, why do you fear a man who has loved you from his tenderest years? He is incapable of doing you wrong, and his affection is altogether innocent, but the princess distrusted herself as much as him. She could not but own the merits of this charming shepherd, and she knew well how necessary it is to avoid what we are tempted to love too much.
No harder task could have been hers at that moment, tearing herself away from the person she loved more tenderly and more dearly than any one she had ever seen. She could not help turning her head sometimes just to look if he were following, and she saw him fall clown as if dead. She loved him, yet she would not give herself the consolation of going to his aid. When she was on the plain she lifted her eyes piteously, and clasping her hands, cried: "O virtue! O glory! O high estate! See how I sacrifice my happiness to you! O fate! O Trasimenet I give up my fatal beauty. Give me back my former ugliness, or give me back, without the need to blush for it, the lover whom I leave behind." Then she stopped, hesitating whether to flee or to return. Her heart called to her to go back to the wood where she had left Peerless; but her virtue was stronger than her tenderness, and she took the generous determination not to see him.
Since she had been living in these parts, she had heard tell of an enchanter who dwelt with his sister in a castle he had built on the borders of the island. Their fairy lore was the talk of every one, and every day new wonders came to light. She felt that it must be a magic power at least that should blot out of her heart the picture of the charming shepherd, and without saying a word to her kind hostess who had received her and treated her as a daughter, she set off, her mind so full of her troubles that she never thought of the danger there might be in so young and beautiful a maiden travelling all by herself. She stopped neither night nor day, neither ate nor drank, in such haste was she to
reach the castle and be cured of her love. But passing through a wood she heard some one singing, and it seemed as if she heard her name uttered in the voice of one of her companions. Stopping to listen she heard these words:--
The comeliest shepherd of the plain was Peerless,
And all his heart on Radiant fast was set.
Proud of his love, and confident, and fearless,
He poured his passion out whene'er they met.
But his young mistress of his love made light,
Though when her lover wandered from her sight,
She'd sigh and sigh until he came again
And ne'er such sigh for him was heaved in vain.
Upon the grass together they would sit,
And what was taught him by his love and wit
He'd sing and pipe the summer morning long,
And stop to hear from her sweet mouth his song."
"Ah! but this is too bad," she said, shedding tears. "Ah, treacherous shepherd, you have boasted of the harmless favour I have granted you! You dared to think my weak heart would be more ready to listen to your love than my own duty. You have spoken your wicked desires aloud, and yours is the fault that my name is sung in the woods and the plains." Anti at that moment she felt so very angry that she thought she could have looked upon him with indifference, and perhaps even with hatred. "It is useless," she said, "for me to go farther to seek a remedy for my ill. I have nothing to fear from a shepherd whom I know to be so undeserving. I shall return to the hamlet with that shepherdess I have been listening to." She called her as loud as she could, but there came no answer, yet nevertheless from time to time she heard some one singing near her. She became uneasy and afraid. The truth was, this wood belonged to the enchanter, and no one could pass through it without meeting with some sort of adventure. Radiant, more uncertain than ever, hastened on her 'a out of the wood. "Has the shepherd whom I feared become of so little consequence to me now that I should permit myself to see him again? Is it not rather that my heart, in league with him, is seeking to deceive me? Oh let me flee, let me flee away; it is the best thing an unhappy princess like me can do." So she went on her way to the enchanter's castle; anti once there she entered without hindrance. She crossed several great Courts, where the grass and the bramble-bushes grew so high, that you would have thought no one had walked there for a hundred years, and when she pushed them aside her hands were full of scratches. She went into a hall where the daylight only came through a little hole, and which was hung with bats' Wing Twelve cats, Suspended from the ceiling, served as a chandelier and made mew ling enough to drive any one distracted On a long table there were twelve big mice fastened down by their tails, with a piece of lard lying before each of them which they could not reach. The mice were in terror of the cats, and were of hunger within sight of good pieces of lard. The princess was thinking of the suffering of these animals when she saw the enchanter come in in a long black robe. On his head for a cap he wore a crocodile and never was so terrible a head dress seen. The old ma wore spectacles, and held a whip in his hand made of twenty long serpents, all alive. Oh, how frightened the princess was! How she longed at that moment for her shepherd, her sheep, and her dog! Her only thought was of flight, and without a word to this terrible man, she ran to the door. But the door was all covered with spiders' webs. She took one away, and found another. She took that away, and found a third. When she took the third away a new one appeared in front of still an other. In fact, these tiresome spider-web curtains were al together numberless. The poor princess came to an end of her strength, and her arms were not strong enough to Support the webs. She wished to sit down on the ground to rest for a little, but there she felt long thorns going into her. Jumping up again, she tried once more to get out, but ever another web appeared when she had torn the first away. The wicked old man looked on at her all the while, laughing as if he would choke. At last he called to her, saying: "You may spend the rest of your life trying, but you will never succeed. You seem to be Young, and you are the prettiest of all pretty things. If you like, I will marry you. I will give you these twelve cats you see hanging from the ceiling to do what you like with, and those twelve mice on the table will be yours too. The cats are princes, and the mice princesses. The minxes, at different times, have had the honour to be loved by me, for I have always been amiable and gallant, but none of them would marry me. The princes were my rivals, and happier than I. I was seized with jealousy. I found the means of enticing them here, both princes and princesses, and as they were caught they were turned into cats or mice. The fun of it is that they hate each other just as much as they used to love each other, and what more perfect vengeance could I find?" "Ah, sire," said Radiant, "turn me into a mouse. I deserve it just as much as these poor princesses." "What!" said the magician, "you will not love me, then, you little Bo-peep?" I have made up my mind to love no one," she answered. "Oh, you little silly "said he. "I shall give you such nice things to eat. I shall tell you stories, and give you the prettiest clothes in the world. You will always drive in a coach, or he carried in a litter, and you will be called madam." "I have made up my mind to love no one," replied the princess once more. "Take care what you are saying," cried the enchanter angrily. "You will long repent of this." "No matter," said Radiant, "I have made up my mind to love no one." "Oh, very well, cold hearted creature," said he, touching her; "since you will not love anybody, you shall be turned into a special kind of animal. Henceforth you shall be neither flesh nor fish. You shall have neither blood nor bones. Because you are still in your fresh youth, you shall be green; you shall be light and nimble; you shall live in the meadows as you lived before, and your name shall be Grasshopper." At that instant Princess Radiant was turned into the prettiest grasshopper in the world, and, regaining her liberty she made off at once for the garden.
As soon as she was free to utter her laments, she cried in distress: "Ah my bowl; my clear howl, what has become of you? This then is what your promises end in, Trasimene was it this sad fate you kept for me two hundred years long? A beauty as little lasting as the flowers of spring, and in the end a covering of green crape, a queer little body, neither flesh nor fish, and with neither blood nor bones! I am indeed unhappy! Alas! a crown would have hidden all my defects. I would have found a husband worthy of me, and if I had remained a shepherdess, dear Peerless's one desire would have been to win my heart. He is but too well revenged for my cruel contempt. Here I am a grasshopper, fated to sing day and night, when my heart full of bitterness would rather bid me weep." So spoke the grasshopper hidden amongst the delicate grass on the edge of the stream.
But what was Prince Peerless doing away from his beloved shepherdess? The cruel manner in which she had left him pained him so much that he had not the strength to follow her. Before he could have reached her, he had fainted, and he remained for a long time quite unconscious at the foot of the tree where Radiant had seen him fall, till at length the coolness of the ground, or some unknown power, brought him back to life. He did not dare to go to her cottage that day. Turning over in his mind some of the last verses she had said to him:--
"If perchance I loved you less
Hardly would I hide me"--
he began to be more hopeful, and felt sure that with time and care he would breed in her a little gratitude. But what were his thoughts when, going to the old shepherdess's hut where Radiant lodged, he learnt that she had not been there since the day before? He was like to die for anxiety, and took his leave full of troubled thoughts. As he sat grieving by the river-side, he felt over and over again the impulse to throw himself in, and to end his troubles with his life. At last, taking a small dagger, he carved these verses on the bark of a beam tree:--
"Clear stream that wanders through the valleys fair,
Green meadow lands that once my pleasure were,
But now my misery,
She whom I loved, and whom you sure have taken
As model for your charms, has now forsaken
Both you and me.
Henceforth my business in this world is sorrow--
From dawn to dusk, again from eve to morrow,
What but to weep
"Young tree, upon whose tender bark I write
The story of my love and of her flight
In letters deep,
Forgive the pain. Your wounds are records weak
Of what is branded on my spirit meek
In marks of fire.
Her name is rather your adorning; while I--
Now she is gone, to lay me down and die
Is my desire."
He could write no more, for at that moment he was accosted by a little old woman who wore a ruff round her neck, a farthingale, a fillet about her white hair, and a velvet hood. There was something venerable about her antique air. "My son," she said, "the words you utter are very bitter. I beg of you to tell me what is the cause of your sorrow." "Alas! good mother," said Peerless, "I deplore the absence of a lovely shepherdess who has fled from me. I have resolved to seek for her throughout the whole earth, till so be I have found her." "Go in yonder direction, my child," she said, pointing to the road leading to the castle where poor Radiant had been turned into a grasshopper. "I have a feeling that you will not have to search for her long" Peerless thanked her, and begged that the God of Love would look kindly on her.
The prince met with no other adventure on his way. to stop him, but on reaching the wood near the castle of the magician and his sister, he thought he saw the shepherdess. He hastened to follow her, but she still went on. "Radiant," he cried, "Radiant, whom I adore, stay a little, deign to hear me!" The phantom sped on faster, and in this pursuit the day went by. When night came on, he saw lights sparkling in the castle, and he thought to himself the shepherdess was perhaps inside. So he ran, and entered without hindrance. Going upstairs, he found in a magnificent hall an old fairy, tall and horribly thin. Her eyes were like two lamps whose light had been put out, and you could see through her cheeks. Her arms were like lathes, her fingers like spindles; a black, leathery skin covered her skeleton form. Yet, all the same, she had put rouge and patches on her cheeks, and wore green and pink ribbons, a mantle of silver brocade, a crown of diamonds on her head, and jewels all over.
"At last, my prince," she said, "you reach the spot where I have been waiting for you long. Think no more of your little shepherdess. A love so unfitting your rank should make you blush. I am the Queen of the Meteors. I wish you well, and I can be of endless service to you if you will love me." "Love you, madam!" cried the prince, looking at her indignantly. "Love you, madam? Am I master of my heart? No, I could never consent to such unfaithfulness, and I feel even that were I to change the object of my love, you would not take her place. Choose amongst your meteors some influence that pleases you. Love the air, or the winds, but leave mortals in peace."
The fairy was enraged. Waving her hand twice, she filled the gallery with horrible monsters, against whom the young prince had to defend himself with his skill and courage. Some of them had several heads and several arms; others had the face of a centaur or a siren; some were lions with men's faces, some were sphinxes, and flying dragons. Peerless had nothing but his crook and a small spear which he had armed himself with at the beginning of his journey. From time to time the tall fairy would make the fray to cease, and ask him if he loved her. And always he said he had vowed to be a faithful lover, and he could not change. Tired out with his persistence, she made Radiant appear. "Well," she said, "you see your mistress at the foot of this gallery. Think what you are doing. If you refuse to marry me she will he torn to pieces by tigers before your eyes." "Ah! madam," cried the prince, throwing himself at her feet, "I would willingly die to save my mistress. Spare her life by taking mine." "It is not a question of your death, traitor," replied the fairy, "it is a question of your heart and your hand." While they were speaking the prince heard the Voice of his shepherdess as if she were mourning. "Will you let me be devoured?" she said. "if you love me make up your mind to do what the queen commands you." The Poor prince hesitated "Ah, Goodheart,' he cried "have you then forsaken me, after so many promises? Come, come and help us." Hardly had he uttered the words when he heard a voice saying these words distinctly:--
"Let fate take its course; only be faithful, and seek the Golden Branch".
The tall fairy who had thought she had won the day by means of so many different illusions, was in despair at finding such a powerful obstacle across her path as the protection of Goodheart. "Get out of my sight, you miserable stubborn prince!" she cried. "Since your heart is so enflamed, be a cricket, friend of the heat and of the fire." And at that moment the handsome, the splendid Prince Peerless became a little black cricket, who would have burnt himself alive in the first fireplace or the first oven, if he had not called to mind the friendly voice that had bidden him hope. "I must seek the Golden Branch," he said, "and then perhaps I shall regain my own shape. Ah, if I could but find my shepherdess, what would be lacking for perfect happiness?"
The cricket made haste out of the fatal palace, and without knowing where he should go. He recommended himself to the care of the beautiful Fairy Goodheart. Then he took his departure, without baggage and without noise, for a cricket fears neither robbers nor misadventures by the way. At his first resting place, which was in the hollow of a tree, he found a grasshopper in a melancholy condition and unable to sing. The cricket, having no idea that this was a reasoning, intelligent being said: "And whither is Gammer Grasshopper bound for?" "And you, Gaffer Cricket, whither away?" This answer very much astonished the love-sick cricket. "What," he cried, "you can speak?" "What? well, I like that!" she cried. "Do you think a grasshopper should be less privileged than a cricket? ' "I can speak perfectly well," said the cricket, "because I am a man." "According to that," answered the grasshopper "I should be able to speak better than you, because I am a woman." "is then your lot like mine?" said the cricket. "Yes, it must be the same," answered the grasshopper "But now tell me where you are going." "I should be delighted," the cricket went on, "if we could bear each other company for a long while. I heard a voice which carried from I know not where, which said:--
'Let fate take its course; only be faithful, and seek the Golden Branch'.
It seemed to me it could only be meant for me. So without delay I set off, though I know not whither I am bound." This conversation was interrupted by two mice running as fast as ever they could. Seeing a hole at the foot of the tree, they flew in there head foremost, and all but choked the cricket and the grasshopper, who took refuge as they could in a little corner. "Ah, madam," said the biggest mouse, "I have a pain in my side with having run so fast. How does your highness?" "I wrenched off my tail," said the youngest. "Otherwise I should still be fastened to the old wizards table. Did you see how he ran after us? How lucky we are to have got away from his wretched palace!" "I am just a little afraid of the cats and the rat-trap, princess," said the big mouse, "and I fervently wish I may soon reach the Golden Branch." "You know the way then?" said the mouse princess. "Do I know it? I should think I do, madam, as well as the way to my own house," answered the other. "This branch is wonderful. You want only one of its leaves to be rich for ever. It supplies you with money. It breaks the charms of magic. It gives beauty, and preserves youth. So before daybreak let us set out on the road." "We shall have the honour of your company, this good cricket here and myself, if you are agreeable, ladies," said the grasshopper, "for we also are like you, pilgrims to the Golden Branch." The two parties exchanged compliments with each other. The mice, be it understood, were princesses whom this wicked enchanter had attached to the table; and as for the cricket and the grasshopper, their courtesy most clearly showed their rank.
All of them woke early next morning, and set off together very silently, for they feared lest any hunters on the watch, hearing them speak, might take them and put them into cages. At last they arrived at the Golden Branch. It was in the middle of a wonderful garden, the walks of which were strewn with little Eastern pearls, rounder than peas, instead of sand. The roses were of pink diamonds, and the leaves of emeralds, the pomegranate flowers of garnets, the marigolds of topazes, the jonquils of yellow brilliants, the blue-bottles of turquoises, the tulips of amethysts, opals, and diamonds. In fact, endless were the number and the variety of these beautiful flowers, and they shone brighter than the sun.
Here it was then, as I have already said, the Golden Branch, the same that Prince Peerless received from the eagle, and with which he touched Fairy Goodheart when she was enchanted. It had grown as high as the tallest trees, and was loaded with rubies, which hung from it like cherries. As soon as the cricket, the grasshopper, and the two mice came near it, they took their own natural shapes again. What joy for them! And what delight did not the prince feel at the sight of his fair shepherdess! He threw himself at her feet, and was in the midst of telling her how happy this pleasant and so little expected surprise made him when Queen Goodheart and King Trasimene appeared in such splendour as was in keeping with the magnificence of the garden. Four Cupids armed from top to toe, bows by their sides, quivers on their shoulders, supported with their arrows a little pavilion of gold and blue brocade, beneath which two beautiful crowns were seen. "Come, dear lovers," cried the queen, stretching out her arms; "come and receive from our hands the crowns which your virtue, your birth and your faithfulness deserve. Your pains are going to be turned into pleasures. Princess Radiant," she said, "this is the prince who was destined for you by your father and his. He did not die in the tower. Take him for your husband, and leave to me the care of your peace and happiness." The princess in great delight threw herself on Goodheart's neck, and seeing her tearful face the fairy understood that it was excess of joy that took from her the power of speech. Peerless threw himself on his knees before the generous fairy. He kissed her hands respectfully, and poured out his thanks in great confusion. Trasimene caressed him tenderly, and Goodheart told them, in a few words, how she had scarcely ever left them, that it was she who had proposed to Radiant to blow into the yellow and white muff, that she had taken the form of an old peasant, so that the princess might lodge with her, and that it was again she who had told the prince in which direction he should follow his shepherdess. "In truth," she went on, "you have had troubles which I would have saved you if I had been able to. But, after all, the pleasures of love are worth their price." A soft symphony was heard murmuring around them, and the Loves made haste to crown the young lovers. The marriage took place, and while this ceremony was going on, the two princesses, who had just lost their mouse shape, conjured the fairy to use her power to deliver from the wizard's castle the unfortunate mice and cats who were languishing there. "This is too memorable a day," said she, "to refuse you anything." With that she struck the Golden Branch three times, and all who had been imprisoned in the castle made their appearance in their own natural shape, and found their mistresses again. The generous fairy, wishing that every one should have a share in the rejoicing, gave them the cupboard in the donjon to share between them. This present was worth more than ten kingdoms in those days. Their pleasure and their gratitude can easily be imagined. Goodheart and Trasimene finished the great work with a generosity which surpassed all they had ever done before, declaring that the palace and the garden of the Golden Branch would in future belong to King Peerless and Queen Radiant. A hundred kings paid tribute to them, and they had a hundred dependent kingdoms.