IN THE Circassian mountains lived an old man and his wife who had retired from the world, weary of the caprices of fortune. They had found for themselves a convenient retreat in a cavern, which extended far beneath one of the mountains, and the dread of seeing each other expire was the only anxiety that troubled them in their solitude. They had lived at Courts, and knew all the insincerity that prevailed in them; and far from regretting the brilliant positions they had occupied, they pitied those who, from ambition or want of experience, were desirous of them. They lived a happy and quiet life. Their food consisted of fruit and fish, the latter abounding in a large pond, wherein the old man amused himself by taking them; while a flock of sheep which the old woman had the care of, produced the finest wool in the world to make their clothes with. The old man called himself Mulidor, and his wife was named Phila. They incessantly implored the gods to send somebody to console whichever might be left the last upon earth, or to close their eyes, but their prayers had not yet been granted. It must not, however, be supposed that the gods rejected such pure and reasonable desires, but they wished to prove the constancy of these good people, to recompense them afterwards with interest.
The old man had just caught some fish, and after fastening his boat to the bank, he spread his net upon a rock to dry it in the sun, when a lion rushed out from one of the cavities of the rock, and went to drink in the pond. Mulidor was afraid at first, but afterwards finding that the proud beast was roaring because he could not reach the water, which was too far off from the edge at this spot, he re-entered his boat, and filling a bowl offered it to the lion, who came and emptied it several times. After he had quenched his thirst, he raised his head and looked at his benefactor so mildly, that the good man ventured to caress him. The lion appeared pleased at his doing so, and ate some bread and cheese which the old man took from a basket he had slung on his arm. As, however, this was not a very safe companion, Mulidor thought he had better return to his cavern, fearing that his wife, uneasy at his absence, might come in search of him, and that the lion, having less respect for her than for him, would devour her.
This idea was beginning to agitate him, when the lion, after licking his hand, returned to his own home, leaving the old man at liberty to do so likewise. Upon reaching the cavern he found his wife, as he expected, alarmed at his delay; he related his adventure to her, which made her shudder. They continued to talk upon the subject, and drew this inference, that men might learn lessons of kindness and gratitude from animals. "Do not, however, place yourself again at the mercy of this fierce beast," said she, affectionately, "or let me go with you, for I could not live under the fear I shall henceforth be in concerning you. You have been restored to me this time, but can I flatter myself that the Gods will be always equally gracious to me." The old man, touched by her affection, promised to avoid the lion in future. This conversation kept them up late, and consequently they did not awake till the golden rays of morning shone full upon them. On opening the door to go out and feed her sheep, Phila was greatly surprised to find at it a lion of prodigious size and strength, and a lioness of equal power and beauty, the latter carrying on her back a little girl of five or six years old, who, as soon as she saw the old woman, alighted, ran to her, and embraced her.
The good woman stood motionless with fear and wonder, and the lions, after kissing the little girl, who returned their caresses, ran off, and disappeared in an instant, leaving her in the good wife's hands. Recovering from her fright she looked at the child, who never ceased kissing her, took her in her arms, and went into the cavern to show her to her husband. They both of them admired her beauty and gentleness; she was quite naked, her fair hair only falling over her shoulders, and upon her right breast she had a singular mark in the shape of a crown.
The good people thanked the Gods for this gift; they dressed the beautiful little child in a light snow-white robe, with a rose-coloured girdle, and tied up her hair with ribbon of the same colour. She allowed them to do so quietly, and without saying a word. They fondled her, and gave her some ewe's milk quite fresh. She smiled at the sight of it, and looking at them, uttered a little cry resembling the roar of a lion. She soon became accustomed to them, however; she had no resemblance to a lion but in her voice, and from that circumstance they called her Lionette. She answered to this name, and her natural intelligence soon enabled her to understand what they said to her, and at length to speak and explain herself. She had been a year with these good people, who loved her dearly, and were equally loved by her, when Mulidor, to make her familiar with their way of life, in case she should lose them, took her out to fish with him. He had been there several times alone without meeting the lions, but little Lionette was no sooner at the foot of the rock where the good man dried his fish than she uttered a little roar, which awoke the lion and lioness, who ran out to her immediately, each vying with the other in fondling and caressing her. She embraced the lioness affectionately, who allowed her freely to do so; at length she jumped upon her back, and the lions ran off with her in a moment. The poor old man was in consternation; he threw himself upon the ground and prayed to die, now that he had lost Lionette. After lying there a long time, finding his despair could be of no avail, he dragged himself to his cavern, and created fresh misery there in relating to Phila the accident that had happened to Lionette.
"Lionette! my dear Lionette!" cried the good woman, "is it possible we can have lost you? Alas! why did the Gods present you to us, so cruelly to take you from us? Of all the goods we have lost we but regret you!" Their affliction was inconsolable, and poor Mulidor had scarcely spirit enough to bear up against this misfortune. The night was passed in lamentations and tears. At break of day they went in search of her, fearing neither the lions nor their fury; their great love for Lionette made them wish to be devoured also, if she had undergone that frightful fate. They ran to the rock where the lions had chosen to establish themselves, when suddenly they saw little Lionette riding on the lioness towards them. As soon as the lovely child saw them she jumped down, and ran and threw her arms round their necks; then taking from the back of the lioness a kid that she had killed in the chase, "There," said she, "see what mother lioness gives you; she took me hunting to get game for you." These good people were half crazy with delight at seeing her again; they could not help crying, and bathing her pretty face with their tears. "My dear daughter! my dear child!" they exclaimed, "you are restored to us again." Lionette was affected at this sight. "Do you then," said she, "forbid me from seeing the lioness, that you can say nothing to her, and that you shed tears in embracing me?" "No, no, my dear child," they both cried at once, "but we feared that you had abandoned us." "Mother lioness does not wish it," said the child, "she wishes me to be your daughter." She turned round for her to agree to what she said, but she was no longer there, and Lionette returned cheerfully with them to the cavern.
Mulidor and Phila thought this was a very wonderful adventure; they had many private conversations about it, and determined they would not refuse the child to the Lioness, when she chose to come for her; at the same time, Mulidor obtained his wife's consent to consult Tigreline upon Lionette's destiny. She was a very learned Fairy. "I had already thought of doing so," replied Phila, "and it had better be done directly." It was settled he should start the first thing in the morning.
The good woman prepared a present for the Fairy, to induce her to be more gracious--nothing very precious, the Fairies do not desire it--it was a piece of sky-blue ribbon, and a little basket of nuts, which Tigreline was passionately fond of. Mulidor set out on his journey to her dwelling; she had fixed her habitation in the heart of an immense forest which was filled with tigers--it was from that circumstance she took her name. When any one sought her for a good object, the tigers did them no harm, but if they went thither with any evil design, they tore them to pieces, and none such were ever known to reach the Fairy's castle. The old man having nothing to fear upon that subject, did not arm himself with any weapon of defence, and arrived without difficulty at the castle at the moment the Fairy was getting up. He found her occupied in stringing large pearls on a golden thread. She received him very graciously, and taking her spectacles from off her nose, "Approach, wise old man," said she. "I know what has brought you here, and I am very glad to see you." Mulidor bowed profoundly, and kissed Tigreline's robe. He offered his little present, which she received very kindly, then making him sit down, she told him she would consult Destiny in her large book, that she might answer correctly the questions he came to ask her. After reading for some time, she raised her eyes to Heaven, then fixing them upon Mulidor, "Listen," said she, "to what I think of Lionette. She must be warned from loving one who is her direct opposite, otherwise great misfortune may happen to her, even to the loss of life. Should she arrive at twenty without this fate befalling her, I answer for her happiness." She then informed the old man that Lionette was a great Princess, exposed to be eaten by lions almost immediately after she was born, through the wickedness of a certain Queen; but she would not tell him anything more, and exhorted the old man to continue to cultivate in the child all those good feelings which he himself possessed, and left it to him to decide on telling her who she was, trusting to his prudence for securing her happiness.
She then gave him for Lionette the string of pearls she had just finished. "If she do not lose it, or give it away," said the Fairy, "it will preserve her from many dangers. It may, indeed, insure her happiness if she take special care of it." The old man thanked the Fairy and returned home, where he arrived before nightfall.
He found his wife and Lionette; the latter embraced him a thousand times, and he tied the Fairy's pearls round her neck, earnestly entreating her to take great care of them. She was enchanted with this new ornament, and the old man related to Phila, as soon as they were alone, all that the Fairy had told him. They consulted together upon the course they should take, and resolved they would say nothing to Lionette of her birth, to prevent her feeling useless regrets. "We can tell her at any time, should it be necessary to do so," added the prudent wife; "and we should be sorry for it (not having it in our power to give her more than the education of a simple shepherdess) if her disposition, sweet as it is now, should be changed by the knowledge of her rank. Let us attend to her heart and mind: princesses have not the time to do so. She will learn from her own experience that they are as subject as other mortals are to the caprices of Fortune, and perhaps she may be the happier for it."
Mulidor quite agreed with the truth of this, and they applied themselves more than ever to the education of this amiable child, whose natural excellence left them nothing to wish for. She was twelve years old, and continued to go hunting with the Lioness, very often carrying on her shoulder a little quiver, and skilfully shooting the wild beasts. One night, returning later than usual, the cavern resounded with the roars of the Lioness. Mulidor and Phila both went out, and found the Lioness at the door, having brought Lionette with her, who was seated on the ground, endeavouring to console the poor animal, that appeared in deep despair. "The Lion is dead," cried the young child, "and my mother cannot be comforted--a hunter has killed him." The Lioness rolled upon the ground, and shed torrents of tears. The old man, his wife, and Lionette did their best to soothe her grief; but after passing the whole night in the vain attempt, the Lioness expired herself in the morning. The sobs and grief of Lionette were excessive, she could not leave the body of the poor beast, she embraced it, and shed tears over it. At length they dragged her from this sad scene, and while the old man buried the Lioness, the kind Phila attended to Lionette, who was in the deepest affliction. When Mulidor came in, he was much moved by the child's grief, and was anxious to comfort her, but finding he only increased her sorrow, he said, "What would you have done, then, my child, if this accident had happened to either of us? It is not possible you could have felt it more keenly." "Ah! my father," cried she, holding her arms out to embrace him, fearing that he was offended at the little attention she paid to his consolations, "if the Gods have reserved so much misfortune for me, I implore them to let me die instantly, for I shall not be able to support it." "The Gods, my child," replied the old man, "do not always grant such rash petitions. It is offending Providence not to submit humbly to its decrees. Do you suppose you are the only one who suffers from affliction in this life? Is this the courage I thought you capable of?"
Lionette cast down her eyes: the severity of this remonstrance had brought a slight colour into her cheeks, which made her more lovely. Mulidor felt he had said enough; he went out and left his wife to soften anything he might have said too harshly; and Phila, embracing Lionette, said, "Really, my child, you would make us believe you could have no greater grief. No doubt the friendship you show for these poor animals is highly laudable, but you must take comfort, and thank the Gods that they have not inflicted on you greater misfortunes." "Ah! my mother," cried Lionette, embracing her, "how much obliged I am to you for speaking to me thus; do not let my father be angry with me any more--I feel I could not bear it." Mulidor re-entered; Lionette ran to embrace him; he returned her caresses with a fondness that consoled the charming child. They could not sufficiently admire the goodness of her heart, her sensibility, her gentleness, and frankness; and she also loved them dearly.
Lionette, however, continued to deplore the loss of the Lions: a deep melancholy appeared to have taken possession of her; she dared not give way to it before Mulidor, but she felt less restraint with Phila. The worthy couple often conversed together upon this subject; they became alarmed at Lionette's condition; they tried to amuse her; they went out more frequently, took walks with her, allowed her to go hunting and fishing, gave her birds, flowers, shells; but she preferred hunting to all other amusements. The part of the country in which they lived was so wild a desert that persons must either have come there on purpose, or have lost their way, to be seen in it, so there was little danger of Lionette meeting with anybody. Still, the fact of the Lion having been killed by a hunter was remembered by Mulidor. He never could understand how a man could get so far without having found out their retreat, or being more astonished at seeing a young girl mounted on a Lioness, and hunting in company with a Lion. They did not dare ask Lionette any questions about it, fearing they should renew her grief; and yet they feared to prohibit her from hunting, feeling, good souls, how cruel it would be to deprive her of her favourite amusement. They only entreated her, therefore, to take care she did not lose herself.
At the end of some months, Lionette regained her spirits a little. The old man and his wife were enchanted at this happy change. They congratulated themselves upon having promoted it by their indulgence, and trusted that she would in time forget the Lions. She grew fast, and began to evince character; she was wonderfully beautiful, even in the most simple of her dresses. Phila had made her garment of the finest tigers' skins, and a little cap of the same material; and thus attired, one might have taken her for Diana herself, she was so graceful and majestic. Her beautiful black eyes heightened the brilliancy and vivacity of her complexion, which neither the hottest sun nor the most scorching wind had any effect upon, nor could they injure the whiteness of her arms or neck. She was not at all aware of her beauty; her strength of mind and her education made her above priding herself on her personal advantages. She spoke well, and her ideas were even superior to her language. The good people were astonished to see her at so early an age evincing so much talent and judgment. She was then just approaching her fifteenth birthday.
For some days past, Phila perceived that she had taken the trouble to put her hair in curls on going to bed, and that on going out she glanced at herself with a kind of satisfaction in a fountain adjoining the cavern. She mentioned this to Mulidor, who was as much surprised at it as herself; they, however, did not choose to speak to her about it, but determined to watch her closely, that they might discover the motive of this unusual attention to her personal appearance, and they recollected that for some time past she had appeared thoughtful, uneasy, and indifferent to matters which had previously amused her.
Lionette returned to the cavern rather earlier on that day; she brought with her a brace of partridges that she had killed. The good woman asked her if she felt too tired to help her with some spinning she wished to finish. "If you could dispense with my assistance," said Lionette, "I should be very much obliged to you; I feel so inclined to sleep."
Phila consented, and let her go into a little nook of the cavern which made a kind of room for her. She had decorated it with all the rarest things that she had found. The hangings were composed of the feathers of singular birds, and an abundance of flowers in shells, which she kept filled with fresh water, ornamented this pretty chamber. Mulidor had taught her to paint; she had finished some charming pictures, and with the wool she had found in the cavern she had embroidered some cushions, which she had arranged as a couch. Upon this she threw herself, looking more like a goddess than a mortal.
The good woman becoming uneasy at the length of time she slept, went to seek her; she found her, as I have just described, reclining on the cushions; her eyes were shut, but a few tears that were struggling to escape through their long lashes, convinced her that the lovely Lionette was in some distress. She stood looking at her for some time, she had never seen her look so beautiful; but at length, alarmed at her condition, she drew nearer, and taking her hands, pressed them affectionately between her own.
This action aroused Lionette, and turning her eyes towards Phila, "Ah, mother!" said she, throwing herself upon her neck, "how ashamed I am to appear thus before you." "Why, my dear girl," said Phila, "why do you conceal your troubles from me? Do you not know how interested we both feel for you? What is the matter with you, my child? Do not hide your distress from me; perhaps I could assuage it."
Lionette was some time before she ventured to answer. She kept her head bent down in the old woman's hands; she kissed them passionately. At length she regained her courage, and raising herself, her cheeks suffused with blushes, "I am about to tell you something," said she, "which has tormented me for some time past. Let me hope this avowal at least will serve to obtain your forgiveness." "Speak, my dear girl," said Phila, "and fear nothing. I am more uneasy at your grief than angry at your having concealed it from me."
Lionette encouraged by this, told her that, on her way to the forest, about three months ago, she had seen a young shepherd fast asleep, and that an arrow which she had shot at a bird having missed it, fell and pierced the young man's hand; that attracted by the cry he uttered, she approached him, and assisted in stanching the blood. "This wound," she added, "awoke in my heart a strange emotion. I trembled in applying to it the herbs I had gathered, the properties of which you had taught me. He, far from being angry with me, told me he should never complain of that wound, but eternally of the one my eyes had inflicted on him.
"This language, quite new to me, was so fascinating that I wished never to quit him. He wept as he gazed on me; he kissed my hands to detain me. I proposed that he should follow me, that my father might assist in curing him. 'I cannot do so, beautiful Lionette,' said he (I had told him my name), 'a most cruel fate has forced me to fly from the world; but promise me to come sometimes and cheer my solitude, and I shall ask nothing more from the Gods. I shall believe their anger is appeased.' I did promise him--he asked me too tenderly to be refused. At length I felt you would be uneasy at my stay, and I left him with so much regret that I burst into tears, and hurried away that he might not perceive it, for I was ashamed, I think, of my compassion for him.
"I returned, restless and miserable. Next morning I went in search of him. I cannot tell what prevented me from making you acquainted with it, but I was on the point of telling you a hundred times, and as often I felt it would be impossible to do so--perhaps it was because he had begged me to keep it a secret. I ran to look for him, to ask his permission to tell you. Approaching the spot where we had seen each other the evening before, I stopped suddenly. A feeling of reproach came over me for having hidden this proceeding from you; and besides, I was so agitated, I feared I should be ill. 'What shall I do by myself here?' thought I; 'I am without help, and that which I might find is perhaps dangerous to wait for. Unfortunate Lionette, what hast thou promised to do? Fly, return to thy duty, for it is clear that thou hast wandered from it, since thou art so much disturbed at taking this secret step. The Gods warn thee. This state of mind is not natural.' I had sat down to reflect. I got up. I retraced my steps, when a grievous thought arrested me. 'Alas!' said I, 'perhaps he is unable to come to meet me, from the wound I inflicted on him; and if so, what will be his despair at not seeing me? There is no one to help him in this desolate place but myself. To refuse him my assistance would be inhuman. Let me find out whether he wants me, and see him but for that.'
"I proceeded, therefore, to the fatal place where I had wounded him the evening before. He was not there. I became alarmed; my limbs failed me; I fell upon the moss which covered the ground. I saw some traces of his blood still remaining on it. I was nearly suffocated by my grief. Happily my tears flowed, and that relieved me; but I felt the keenest affliction when I thought that perhaps I had been the cause of his death. I drew out my arrows, and broke them deliberately as a punishment for my cruelty. I caught sight by chance of the one with which I had wounded him. It was still upon the ground, and stained with his blood. My tears flowed faster at this frightful sight. I gave utterance to my agony in piercing shrieks. They were interrupted by the sight of the young shepherd himself, running quickly towards me. I could not rise. He threw himself on his knees near me, in so much terror that I was alarmed myself at his excessive paleness. He asked me what had happened. At the same time I put the same question to him. We re-assured each other. I told him the reason of my tears. Never was any one thanked so tenderly. His words had a charm in them that went to my heart. I listened with a pleasure I had never felt before; I nearly forgot his wound, so much I feared to interrupt him. I was astonished, however, to hear him say how much he loved me--he, whom I had scarcely ever seen; and I was still more surprised to find how dear he had become to me, for he told me more than I could dare tell him; and I believe he could read my heart, for I thought exactly as he did, only it appeared to me I could not so well have expressed myself.
"At last he told me that he wished to be mine. 'And are you not so already?' said I. 'Can you be more so than you are? That would enchant me.' He smiled at my words. I thought I had said something wrong, and I blushed at my awkward manner of expressing myself. I know not what he thought, but he said a thousand more affectionate things to me. He informed me he was the son of a great king, and would be my husband. 'I cannot be your wife,' said I: 'they will not let me.' 'Ah! who will oppose it,' exclaimed he, 'if you consent?' I then told him that my father and mother had always said a crown would be an obstacle to the happiness of my life, and that they certainly would never consent to such a union. 'Wait for a few days,' said he, 'and I will tell you how to soften their severity. If you love me you will assist me in conquering it; but never refrain from coming to this place. My life depends upon your acquiescence. Fear nothing from me, lovely Lionette; nothing can be purer than my affection, and I call all the divinities of the forest to witness that I shall ever respect as much as I love you.' He gave me his hand; I gave him mine, and I vowed, as he had done, to love for ever, if you consented to it.
"I examined his hand, and found the wound had healed; I was delighted at this, and left him, promising to return, and not to say anything to you until he desired me. I returned so absorbed by his image that I felt as though I only lived when he was present. I had no pleasure in anything but him: the more I saw him the more I wished to see him. It was the same with him. He is charming, mother! and were you to see him you could not do otherwise than love him.
"Three months have passed in this sweet union, and now comes my misery. This morning he told me that it was necessary that he should be absent for some days upon important business which tended much to our happiness. I had never known what it was to lose sight of him for more than a few hours. I was as wretched as he was. He told me, however, that he should soon return, and that he was even more anxious than myself to complete our happiness. I wept bitterly. At length the hour arrived for us to part, I unfastened my necklace, and tied it round his arm----"
"Oh, heavens! what have you done, my child?" exclaimed Phila. "We are lost beyond help."
She threw herself upon the ground, and filled the cavern with her cries, Lionette, alarmed at this sight, arose to assist the good woman. "What is the matter, then, mother?" she cried. "Why should a necklace of such trifling consequence rouse you to so much grief?" "It is for you I weep, my daughter," said Phila. "Your happiness was linked with the preservation of that unfortunate necklace."
She then repeated what the Fairy Tigreline had said to Mulidor, and did not conceal from her that she was a princess, but that she knew nothing more. Lionette, who possessed naturally an elevated mind, was not astonished at this news. "Very well, mother," said she; "the more you convince me of the probability of my high birth, the more courageously I ought to bear up against the sad events which are predicted of me, though, to speak the truth, I do not believe in them; and I see nothing unfortunate here but the absence of the shepherd whom I love, and his unhappy name, which made me fly from him without being able to control myself. These are the only misfortunes I know of." "What say you, my daughter?" exclaimed the old woman; "his name caused you to fly from him? Explain this riddle--I do not understand it." "Alas! this is the cause of my despair," replied Lionette. "I had scarcely tied the necklace round his arm, when he kissed my hand with such transport that I forgot my grief for the moment. 'Yes, beautiful Lionette,' he said, 'it is for life that you have enchained the happy Prince Coquerico.'
"Hardly had he pronounced his name, which he had never told me (he preferred that I should always call him my shepherd), than I felt so horrified, without knowing wherefore, that I fled as swiftly as possible. He followed me; he called me. I had not the power to return. An invisible hand seemed to impel me forward. 'My dear Lionette,' he cried, 'where are you going? It is your shepherd--it is Coquerico who calls you.' I ran still faster. At last I lost sight of him, either that I had taken paths he knew not of, or that he was afraid of displeasing me by following me any longer. I arrived here in such confusion I had some trouble in hiding it from you. You know the rest, my mother--all that has happened to me, and I beg you a thousand pardons for profiting so little from your good lessons; and although I owe my birth to apparently powerful princes, I shall always submit to your authority."
Mulidor came in as Lionette finished speaking; they made him acquainted with this adventure; he was in great alarm at what might happen from the loss of the necklace, and did not dare go and consult Tigreline, whom they had so decidedly disobeyed. There was nothing to be done but to wait and see what would befal the Princess. They entreated her to forget this young man; they succeeded by degrees in consoling her for his absence, and notwithstanding her melancholy, she took part occasionally in their cheerful conversation.
Two months passed in this manner. One night they were suddenly awakened out of a deep sleep by a clap of thunder which made them think the cavern was crumbling to pieces. They started to their feet, and had not time to recover themselves before a hideous and very richly dressed Fairy touched them with her wand, and they were transformed into two Lionesses and a Lion, she then transported them in an instant to the Forest of Tigers, where she vanished and left them.
Who could express the consternation of the wise old man, or his wife's distress? That of the Princess was still greater, she reproached herself as being the cause of these good peoples' misfortune; and what distressed her still more was, not being able to speak, she had not the power of comforting them. This calamity for the moment made her forget Prince Coquerico; but when she thought she should never see him more, or that if she did, he would fly in terror from her, or at least not recognise her, she uttered such frightful roars that the forest resounded with them, and her poor companions came near her to try to console her. Their grief was redoubled to find they could neither understand nor speak to her. They groaned despairingly. At length it occurred to all three of them to go to the Fairy, but they had no power of communicating the idea to each other. The Lion was the first to start, the two Lionesses followed him, but the Tigers stopped the way, without, however, doing them any harm. Finding their intentions were frustrated, they concluded it was by the Fairy's orders. They buried themselves in the thickest part of the forest, and laid down very sorrowfully upon some beautiful green grass, which served as a bed for them. They passed some considerable time in this place without seeing the Fairy, she took care, however, to send them food by one of the Tigers regularly every day.
It is now time to acquaint the reader who Prince Coquerico was:--That young Prince was the son of a King who had been very powerful, and who had reigned in the Fortunate Islands. This King was dead, and having left his son at a tender age, the Queen became regent. The ambition of reigning, the pride of being Sovereign Mistress, had closed her heart against the feelings of nature. She had her son brought up in a castle upon the edge of the sea, in luxury and idleness unequalled; and her excuse for this sort of education was a prediction of the Fairies at his birth, to the effect that his life would be endangered if he took up arms before he was twenty years old.
Everything was interdicted that could give him any desire for military exercises, and the art of war was depicted in such frightful colours that, however valiant the Prince might have been born, he shuddered at even the picture of a sword. The King, his father, who had died in battle, was represented to him as so sanguinary a sovereign that he vowed he would never imitate him.
They had named this prince, Coquerico, in derision from his having amused himself one day--contrary to the desire of his tutors--with looking at a fight between two game cocks. He spent his life in walking; in hearing sentimental romances read to him, the heroes of which they represented in such a manner that he might not have a desire to become like them; he learned to play upon several instruments, to paint, and to work at tapestry. The Queen went to see him very often, and pictured to him the fate of kings in such distressing colours, that he dreaded the moment when he should ascend the throne.
He was just ten years old, the time appointed for the Queen to resign the throne to him, when, walking on the coast, apart from his followers, he was caught up by a whirlwind, and disappeared in an instant. His tutors, surprised that he was so long a time in returning, went to seek him, but could find him nowhere. The most diligent search proved in vain, and they were compelled to apprise the Queen of this mysterious circumstance. She would easily have been consoled for this accident if the people of the Island, tired of her government, and indignant at the education that had been given to their King, had not risen in rebellion. After having torn her ministers in pieces, they compelled her to fly to a neighbouring Monarch, who granted her an asylum. This King had been a widower for two years, having but one daughter, in giving birth to whom the Queen died.
He married the fugitive Queen; and the people of the Fortunate Islands elected a council to rule the kingdom until they could obtain news of their Prince Coquerico, whom they did not believe to be dead. They were right, the whirlwind had been caused by a Fairy, who, delighted at the sight of so beautiful a Prince, and angry to find him brought up so badly, had resolved to purloin him from a mother who had proved herself unworthy of being blessed with such a son.
To cultivate a fine disposition spoiled by so wicked an education, the Fairy was impelled by another feeling less generous and more natural. The beauty of this Prince had touched her heart, she imagined that gratitude would make some impression upon that of the young Coquerico. The few charms she possessed, however, were not likely to do so. She was old, and had a horn in the middle of her forehead; but she was very susceptible, and was always complaining that she had met with none but ungrateful beings. "By bringing up this young man," she thought, "he will become accustomed to my appearance, and perhaps my care and affection for him will inspire him with sentiments that may lead in time to that happy union of souls, that perfect mutual love, which I have heard so much of and never experienced."
Cornue (that was her name) reasoned thus in transporting the handsome Prince to her dwelling, which was in the Desert where the old man and his wife had brought up the young Lionette for the last four years. Cornue had built herself a charming palace upon the summit of one of the mountains, but it was inaccessible to all human beings, in consequence of the clouds with which it was continually surrounded. The charms of life, its amusements, both rational and frivolous, were all united there. This palace was of immense extent, although formed of one single opal, so transparent and so beautiful that through the walls one might see a grain of millet at the end of the garden, which was worthy of so magnificent a palace, from its groves, terraces, parterres, and fountains.
The tasteful Cornue had not spared anything, even in her dress, for when, placing the Prince in the vestibule of her palace, she made herself visible to him, she had enveloped her horn in a green velvet case, covered with diamonds; her hair, which was rather grey, was powdered white,  and tied with green moulinet bows, in the centre of each of which sparkled a large diamond; and her dress, of flesh-colour and silver, showed her form so truly, that one could perceive the Graces had striven among themselves which should give the finishing touch to it.
The Prince was surprised at this apparition. She kissed his hand, and asked his forgiveness for taking him away from his retirement without his permission. "If I can avoid being your king," said he, with an air which showed that he was not alarmed at the manner in which he had been conducted thither, "I should be very well contented, for the fear of ascending the throne made me desirous of leaving my kingdom, and you have done me a favour in taking me away from it;--but I should like to know," added he, quickly, "why you wear so pointed a head-dress, and why your dress is of so peculiar a colour?" "We excuse such childish questions at your age," said the Fairy, slightly blushing; "you will be ashamed of them some day;--but let us enter the palace, and you will find something to occupy your attention more agreeably."
She then gave him her hand, and they passed into a saloon in keeping with the beauty of the rest of the palace. A hundred black slaves were arranged in two files, through which the Prince and the Fairy proceeded to the centre. It was sufficiently light to see the rarities which ornamented this beautiful place; statues, sculptured marbles, porcelain, furniture, were all admired with the taste of a connoisseur by the young Prince. The slave opened the door of a magnificent gallery, filled with charts, maps of the world, instruments of geometry, models of the most beautiful cities in Asia, Europe, and Africa; of palaces where the men and women of each nation were dressed in their national costumes, and by the Fairy's skill they moved hither and thither, spoke in their own language, and held conversations according to their position. This amused the Prince for a considerable time. He requested the Fairy to allow him to remain in that gallery a little longer than she seemed inclined to do.
He made the slaves who accompanied him explain what this all meant; he bade them repeat it, and was quite enchanted. He recognised the Fortunate Islands; he saw his tutors seeking for him, and who appeared in despair at not finding him--that touched his heart with pity. The Fairy at length withdrew him from this scene, that he might not witness the catastrophe. She amused him with other objects.
Some islands surrounded by the sea, upon another model, afforded him great entertainment. Vessels filled with passengers executed some wonderful evolutions; then there was a sea-fight, followed by a storm, which dispersed the ships and sank several of them. This terminated the diversions of this day. The Fairy then proposed supper, after which an opera was represented; this was succeeded by a ball, and the Prince danced with the Fairy, and with the nymphs in the Fairy's train, and at last six slaves conducted him to a handsome apartment, in which he retired to rest.
The next and following days were passed in conversations, sometimes serious, sometimes mirthful; the slaves had orders to cultivate his taste for the arts while amusing him, to which purpose he lent himself readily. He was already accustomed to walk in a second gallery, which formed a superb arsenal; he heard them talk of arms and of war with pleasure; he almost wished to witness a battle, and felt ashamed he had ever thought otherwise. The slaves formed themselves into battalions, he placed himself at their head, he enjoyed his triumph in a sham fight, he invented stratagems, he sought for glory everywhere; he no longer feared to be a king. The gallery of models had displayed to him the pleasures of royalty; he passed three hours each day in it, and took lessons from the ablest politicians. The cabinet secrets of all the Courts in the universe were no secrets to him.
There was a model of the whole globe in that gallery, and what art pervaded that grand work! Not only all the kingdoms and their various provinces, to the smallest habitation, were represented; but every mortal upon the face of the earth was seen in pursuit of his vocation. All spoke their own language, you heard them, you saw them,--the most secret actions were displayed therein: the ocean and its vessels, rivers, lakes, streamlets, deserts, even yet undiscovered countries,--nothing was hidden from the learned Cornue. All was to be found in her model. There was wherewithal to amuse one during the longest life that ever was known.
The Prince was fascinated by this wonderful work of art; he studied it for a long time; he could with difficulty tear himself from it; nor did he consent to do so till the Fairy assured him that this gallery forming a portion of his suite of apartments, he might visit it whenever he wished.
He left it at length to enjoy new pleasures--an opera, a supper, followed by a magnificent ball, in which the fairies of Cornue's Court distinguished themselves in dancing, notwithstanding they were ugly and old, for their mistress took care not to incur the reproach of being the least handsome person in the Palace; and the designs she had upon the heart of the young Prince would not admit of her neglecting anything that would bring them to bear.
His education was entrusted to six fairies, who led him each morning into the gallery of the globe for three hours; they explained the various interests of Princes, he learned their languages, he heard and saw the effect of their politics, their battles by land and sea, which displayed to him the ability of ministers and of generals. Already he was able to form sound opinions, and to speak of things with the knowledge acquired from experience. His noble mind developed itself, he burned with a desire for glory, he blushed at having been afraid of it. He also appreciated the pleasures of royalty, he began to find a satisfaction in being master, but he did not at all covet the soft and effeminate life which he perceived in the seraglios of the sovereigns of Persia and Constantinople; he preferred those kings who reigned absolutely over their subjects, with a certainty that they would shed their blood to preserve theirs. Insensibly he became the most accomplished Prince living. He was not ignorant upon any point; his fine intellect assisting his slight experience, he evinced in everything the greatest judgment and discernment. "But where can one see this land, and the inhabitants, that I observe in my model?" said he sometimes to Cornue. "I will show you some day," answered she; "it is not time yet." That would vex him; he was desirous of appearing of some consequence himself in this fine plan of the universe, he was annoyed at not seeing himself in it. This caused him many reflections, but as they only sprang from his brain, they did not distress him much--those suggested by the heart, more interesting, he knew nothing of yet.
The Fairy did not fear that the beauties whom he saw in the model would awake in him any emotions contrary to her wishes; they were so exceedingly small, that he could but take them for pretty little puppets, the largest figure, of a man even, not being taller than one's thumb. His great amusement was the opera and comedy; he went to them very often: the little figures acted wonderfully well, and as he had a great appreciation of genius, he attended all orations of the Academy,  and commented upon them with great sagacity.
Until he was eighteen years old, this gallery continued to be his greatest pleasure; in fact, he knew no other. At that age he began to wish to know the people whose portraits he saw; the Fairy, desirous to please him, dared not oppose him too much; she put him off with promises, but feared he would escape her. "I hunt in your park," he said; "I walk in it; I always see the same things, it tires me; I should like sometimes to see something different." "Ah! truly," said the Fairy, "you have well preserved the faults of human kind. Miserable state of men! Can they be perfectly happy?--they cannot believe themselves to be so, they sigh for what they do not possess, and when they have obtained it they are disgusted with it. Ah! what have you to wish for here? do you not reign here? are you not the master? Do you fear treachery here, false friends, or bad advisers? We live but to please you; you are all-powerful in this Palace--you command; we obey you. What being could be grander and happier than you are?"
The Prince bent his head at the enumeration of all the happiness the Fairy had surrounded him with, and found that he still desired more. He said nothing, but his uneasiness, his agitation, his weariness, appeared in spite of him in all his actions. Cornue increased the magnificence of her dress; the Prince did not notice it; he scarcely ever looked at her. She was disconsolate; for the idea, entertained ever since she had carried him off, the hope of being ardently loved by him, had strengthened with time, and the Prince's increasing beauty had contributed much to her passion. He was just at that happy age in which we please without much trouble, and love with that frankness which is so soon discarded.
Cornue was enraged that he did not think of her. "You ought to love me, were it only to amuse you," said she to him, one day, when she was very melancholy. "Love you," replied he, looking very vacantly at her; "do I not love you?" Then, without thinking of it, he added immediately, "I feel certain I shall never love." "Ah! why?" said the Fairy; "who prevents you?" "Nobody," he replied; then rose, and took a gun, and went shooting for the rest of the day.
The Fairy, in despair at his indifference, and fearing she should lose him if she still persisted in opposing him, perceiving also that he was thinner, and that his colour had faded, determined to allow him to change the scene, and for this reason one morning she sent for him. "The time has arrived," said she, "that I can give you your liberty to leave the Palace. You will find the vast universe, of which I am about to open the roads to you, resemble a very stormy ocean, but since you wish to expose yourself to it, I will not detain you; all I advise you to do is to confide in me when in trouble (for you will have much to endure before you become King), and to commence your excursions by going to my sister Tigreline, and asking her, from me, for the wonderful necklace which can alone preserve you from the misfortunes attached to your fate. Take this bottle, pour a drop of the spirit it contains upon the clouds which surround the park; they will open for you to pass, and this dog will guide you on your way back to the palace."
The Prince, who did not expect so great a favour, displayed such transports of gratitude that the Fairy felt nearly recompensed for her trouble by the caresses she received from him. He promised to follow her advice upon every point, and set out immediately. The boundaries of the park adjoined a forest so wild and frightful that Coquerico found the world was not quite so beautiful as he imagined it to be; notwithstanding, he entered this vast wilderness, accompanied solely by his dog. Guided by his faithful companion, he was pursuing a path which led to the Forest of Tigers, when suddenly he saw a lion of extraordinary size coming straight towards him. At first he was startled at such a meeting, never having seen a lion in Cornue's park; but recovering himself a little, he shot an arrow with so true an aim that it pierced the lion's heart, and he fell dead at his feet. He proceeded as fast as possible, but his attention was arrested a moment afterwards by frightful roarings. He looked in the direction from whence they came, and he saw in the distance another lion, running at full speed, with a young child on its back; he was about to pursue it, but his dog pulled him by the coat so hard that he thought the Fairy Cornue had appointed this dog to be his guardian, and so, giving himself up to his guidance, he arrived at Tigreline's abode without further accident.
As soon as he had told her the reason of his journey, she replied, "Prince Coquerico, you will inform my sister that I have disposed of the necklace that she asks me for; doubtless it was for you she wanted it. I hope, however, that it will not fall into your hands so soon, whatever advantage you might desire from it. But to make up for the loss of this gift, which I am no longer able to bestow, I warn you that if you ever pronounce your name rashly, or without its being absolutely necessary, you will lose, perhaps for ever, that which is most dear to you. I advise you, therefore, to conceal your name from every one, or at least not to mention it lightly. Go, Prince, I can do nothing more for you."
The Prince thanked the Fairy very much, kissed her hand, retired, and returned to Cornue's palace, very well satisfied with the little he had seen. He was received most graciously; they asked him many questions; he related all his adventures; he fancied he should never have finished talking about them, everything had seemed of such singular beauty to him. He was in high spirits all the evening. They praised him, they caressed him, but that did not content him. He was resolved to go out again, and the Fairy, perceiving how good-tempered he was, permitted him to do as he wished. For a whole year he roamed to the furthest extent of the beautiful country in the neighbourhood; sometimes he went on horseback, and often dismounted to sleep under the trees during the heat of the day. This sort of exercise increased his stature and his strength. He was now in the prime of his beauty.
He was very anxious to ask the Fairy to restore him to his subjects; he was tired of this life of privation; his mind, as fine as his person, made him anxious to revisit his kingdom; but he dared not as yet request Cornue's permission, lest he should appear ungrateful. This brought back his former melancholy. Cornue became alarmed; she endeavoured to amuse him in every imaginable way. He scarcely ever went out; he passed his days almost entirely in the gallery of models, and when he saw a battle he could not be got away from it. What was still worse, he one day witnessed the coronation of a young King. At this sight they thought he would go mad. The shouts of joy, the warlike instruments, the pomp of the ceremony, transported him with anger as well as delight. "Why, then," said he, "am I to be imprisoned here during my youth, when I could be at the head of these people, making either war or peace, enjoying really my rights of birth? They would detain me here, a captive, render me as effeminate as Achilles at the Court of Licomedia. Can I not find a Ulysses who will come to my rescue?" He would have given still greater vent to his vexation had they not come to announce to him that the Fairy was waiting for him to order them to begin an opera she had commanded the performance of. "What, always some fête?" said he. "Well," he continued, "I must submit to it."
The opera they were to perform was Armide.  The Fairy, who had been told what an ill-humour the Prince was in, watched him during the performance. She thought that he seemed amused by it, for he was so attentive to the piece. The fourth and fifth acts he certainly did think wonderful; he spoke of it the whole of the evening; he admired above everything the idea of the shield which restored the hero to glory. "What," said the Fairy; "does not Armida interest you at all? Do you not pity her? So much affection deserves a better recompense." "By my faith, Madam," replied the Prince, "your Armida has what she deserves. I should like to know if the heart is to be commanded; I believe it to be perfectly independent of the will, as far as I am concerned." Cornue felt the cruelty of this answer, but she did not appear to do so, and turned the conversation to another subject.
The Prince retired early, that he might go the next day shooting. This was the day that his hand was wounded by the beautiful Lionette's arrow. Upon returning to the Fairy's palace the Prince considered whether he should speak of this adventure; he was astonished at himself for wishing to keep it a secret. A sweet feeling (hitherto unknown to him) stole over his mind, and took such possession of it that he was unable to conceal it. He asked himself what it could mean, and he could find no reason for it. The name of Lionette enchanted him. He repeated it incessantly. The grace, the beauty of this young girl enchanted him, and he found himself within the palace without being aware how he had arrived there. It was then he began to recover himself a little.
Under the effect of this intoxicating feeling, he said a thousand gallant things to the Fairy. She was surprised at it, but flattering herself that her charms had produced this alteration, she did not inquire the reason of such extraordinary joy. His wound made her uneasy, but he took care to tell her that he had hurt himself with one of his own arrows, and the enamoured Cornue, anxious about everything that concerned him, cured it by breathing upon it, without further inquiry. He was in charming spirits for the rest of the day; Cornue thought he had lost his senses; she ordered some music that he thought delightful, although he had heard the same every day without noticing it--so much does love embellish the slightest objects. His passion led him to indulge in delicious meditations, and to discover in his heart the existence of emotions he had never dreamed of. He retired early, and hastened to the gallery, seeking for a representation of her whom he had seen during the day--he was successful in his search; he saw the lovely Lionette seated between the old people in the cavern, and when, on separating for the night, they extinguished the light, and she was in darkness, he still remained gazing in the direction of the cavern, and did not leave the gallery until the following morning was sufficiently advanced for him to go and meet the lovely huntress herself. In traversing the forest he lost himself, and that was the cause of his being so long before he rejoined his beautiful Lionette.
Unfortunately for the Fairy, her skill was now useless to her--from the moment Fairies fall in love, their art cannot protect them; when they recover their reason they regain their power; but in the interim they can neither punish their rivals nor discover them, unless chance assist them, as it might common mortals. Three months elapsed without her having an idea of the cause of the change in Prince Coquerico; she heard no more of his ambitious aspirations; a country life and retirement was all he now desired; he dressed himself as a shepherd; he composed eclogues and madrigals; he engraved them upon the trees in the park, accompanied by gallant and amorous devices that the Fairy could not understand. When she asked him for an explanation, he smiled, and told her it was not for him to instruct so learned a person as she was. "Ask your own heart, Madam," added he, "that will teach you; it was mine that dictated it all to me."
The Fairy was quite contented with this answer; she interpreted it according to her own wishes, but she could not reconcile to herself the Prince's frequent absence, after all he had said to her; for he went out the first thing in the morning, and did not return till the last thing at night. She passed whole days in thinking about new dresses and different entertainments. As she had a lively imagination, she succeeded with the latter, but the former were absolutely useless--her age and her horn entirely defeated all attempts at decoration. It was upon this occasion that she invented the Bal-Masqués, which have been ever since so successful. The Prince often indulged in this agreeable delusion, and with his heart full of the beautiful Lionette, he spoke to the Fairy as though he were addressing his love, and the credulous Cornue took it all to herself.
Towards the end of the third month of this intense and secret passion, the Prince at length resolved to ask the Fairy to conduct him to his own kingdom. It was not ambition that induced him to wish it, but a higher and more delicate sentiment. Why conceal it? Love itself made him anxious to ascend the throne, that he might place the beautiful Lionette on it beside him. He had scarcely spoken to the Fairy about it before she consented, flattering herself that he wished to share his crown with her. With what pleasure did she order everything for his departure. The Prince, as we know, took leave of his lovely shepherdess, and set out, with the Fairy and a numerous suite, for the kingdom of the Fortunate Isles. Cornue was seated with him in a car of rock crystal, drawn by a dozen unicorns; their harness was of gold and rubies, as brilliant as the sun. A dozen other chariots, as pompous, followed; and the Prince, as beautiful as Cupid, and magnificently dressed, attracted the attention of every one. He had most carefully concealed the necklace that the lovely Lionette had given him; he wore it on his left arm as a bracelet, and his dress covered it. He was delighted at the thought of appearing before Lionette in such grand apparel, and to read in her looks the joy such proof of his love would give her; but he could not help feeling a secret anxiety, which at times cast a cloud over his mind; he attributed it to the distance between him and his love, and sometimes he thought he had done wrong in going so far away from her. "The happiness I am seeking, is it worth what I lose?" said he. "Lionette loves me as she has seen me; will she love me more for possessing a crown? Ah! Lionette, I know you too well to wrong you so much; your noble and simple heart only estimates that true grandeur which places man above his fellows by the elevation of his mind."
At length he arrived at the Fortunate Isles, and the people, delighted to see their Prince again, received him with acclamations. He was crowned, and by the attentions of the enamoured Cornue, the ceremony was followed by magnificent fêtes, in which the Prince, from gratitude, insisted on her sharing all the honours. The fêtes ended, and the affairs of this fine kingdom put in order by the Fairy and the ministers she had chosen, she determined to have a complete explanation with the King, and began by adroitly proposing that he should marry. She had gained the ministers over to her wishes, and induced them to join in the proposition she had made to him; but who can tell Cornue's astonishment when the young Prince replied by acknowledging his love for the beautiful Lionette, and entreating her to assist in rendering him happy, by enabling him to share his throne with the object of his affections! "Ah! where have you seen this Lionette?" replied the Fairy, with a look in which astonishment, rage, and vexation were equally visible. "What, then," added she, "is this the return for my care of you?" The Prince, astonished at this sharp reply, and not fearing her reproaches, ended by relating his interview with Lionette, and painted his affection in such glowing colours that she plainly saw the opposition she might make against it would only tend to irritate him and increase his passion; then cleverly making her decision, "I would not speak thus to you," said she, "but to reproach you for your want of confidence, that you did not open your heart to me. I should have served you better, and Lionette would have been to-day Queen of the Fortunate Isles; but you have acted like a young man without experience, and I doubt if I can serve you at present as I could otherwise have done." "Ah! Madam," replied the King, "you can if you will. Give me your chariot, and let me go and seek my beautiful Lionette." "I will do better for you," said she, with a forced smile; "I will go with you as soon as it strikes midnight; hold yourself in readiness; we shall be on our way back before the sun is up, and I know no other means of satisfying your impatience."
The Prince embraced the Fairy's knees, transported with joy and gratitude, which wounded her much more than his unfortunate confidence; she took leave of him under a pretext of consulting her books, but really because she could not contain herself, and her fury had risen to a most horrible height. Who could describe it? All that an amorous, jealous, and mistaken woman could feel, she, as a Fairy, felt still more; nor could the most forcible language paint but feebly the tortures which racked her heart. She had promised, however, to accompany the Prince; but that would enable her to execute the vengeance she meditated.
She felt the more assured of her revenge as the Prince had let the necklace fall from his arm, and had left her without being aware of his loss. She picked it up, and thanking the stars for so lucky an accident, no longer delayed taking measures for her revenge, which would have been useless without that precious necklace. She closed the doors of her apartment, that her absence might not be perceived, and desired the King might be told she must consult her books in private, and at midnight she would be visible. She mounted a flying dragon, and speedily arrived in the cavern, where everything was in profound repose; the dragon sneezed, which was like a clap of thunder, and enough to rend the cavern. She accomplished, as we have already seen, her wicked intentions, and returned to the Fortunate Isles as the clock struck eleven. She could hardly restrain her delight while waiting for the King; but soon the idea of his being in love, and without doubt loved in return, renewed her fury; she was in a transport of rage when he entered her room with an eagerness which assisted not a little to increase it.
She endeavoured to calm herself, or rather to dissemble her rage; her fury was at such a height that her horn was in a flame, and the enamoured and too credulous Coquerico, thinking it was an attention she was paying him to guide him in the darkness of the night, thanked her a thousand times for this precaution. They mounted a chariot drawn by three owls, set off at full speed, and descended in the forest close to the cavern wherein Lionette had been reared. The Prince only knew it from Lionette's description of it. Love invests with interest the most trifling circumstance connected with its object.
He had often asked her to describe the place she inhabited. He remembered every little detail distinctly. He could not be deceived; besides, he knew her bow and arrow that were in the cabinet in which she slept. His grief was excessive at not finding her; he called her, he went in and out of the cavern a thousand and a thousand times, he entreated the Fairy to throw a light from her horn upon places that were obscure, and seeing some little pictures she had painted--"Ah! this is her work," cried he; "I will preserve them all my life." The Fairy was so irritated at his transports, that she threw out a flame from her horn, which in a moment destroyed everything that was in the cavern.
The Prince had great difficulty to save himself from this conflagration. The Fairy protected him, however, and triumphed within herself at the absence of her rival. She advised the Prince to seek for her elsewhere. "Perhaps," said she, "her parents have married her; or perhaps," she continued, ironically, "grief at your loss has caused her death." "I know not what has happened," said the Prince, in a tone which marked the agitation of his mind, and distracted at not being able to find his mistress; "but I would rather believe her to be dead than unfaithful; and if it be true that she exists no longer, very soon I shall follow her to the grave." "Here is a furious determination of a lover!" cried the Fairy; but considering that under the circumstances it would be better not to irritate the King, she changed her tone. "What I have said," pursued she, "is to prove the interest I take in you. I am sorry you should have conceived an affection for a person of such low extraction, and I cannot sufficiently thank Fate that, in accordance with my own opinion, has removed this shepherdess, and thus assisted your heart to recover from its error." "I know not if Fate has assisted you to drive me mad," replied the Prince, sharply; "but if so, I feel she has been more successful in that attempt than the other. As to Lionette, I will repair the defect, if it be one, to be born of obscure parents,--not that I believe it possible for her to be what she appears. In any case, however, happy are the princesses who are as high-minded as she is."
The Prince now, seeing how uselessly he was seeking for her in this place, entered the chariot again with the Fairy, and returned to the Fortunate Isles, where they arrived at sunrise without having spoken a single word, both of them occupied--the one by her fury, the other by his grief.
The King, upon his return, shut himself up in his palace, and thought of nothing but by what steps he might recover Lionette. It occurred to him he ought to go to Tigreline. This resolution taken, he proceeded to Cornue to tell her his project. "I cannot imagine," said he to her, "why you do not assist me in this affair; is your power so limited? Is Tigreline's more extensive than yours?--for I believe," he added, instantly, "you are so interested in my happiness, that you would exert all the skill you possess to increase it, if it were possible. I could not even doubt it, without being ungrateful. I have had sufficient proofs to be quite sure of it, and I feel that I can never forget them." Cornue blushed at this question, which she did not expect, and becoming acquainted with the extent of her misfortune by the latter part of the King's discourse. "It is in consequence of that very affection I have for you," said she, "as you ought to know, that I will not serve you in fostering a passion that would diminish your glory; and if you are as grateful as you say you are for the care I have taken to make you happy, and for preserving your life, you will discard an infatuation which will be your ruin. What an idea will your people--will the whole universe--have of a king so little master of himself that he runs after a poor shepherdess, to give her a crown which he might share with the first princesses in the world--no matter whom: perhaps even a fairy might not have disdained to partake of one with you." These last words, which escaped her in spite of herself, opened the King's eyes, and looking at the Fairy with astonishment, he was convinced of the truth of his suspicions when he saw her standing silent, confused, and carefully avoiding his gaze.
It was some time before he could find words to answer, from his excessive astonishment; but unwilling either to irritate the Fairy at the moment he so much wanted her assistance, or to encourage a hope that he felt incapable of sustaining. "The knowledge you have of the human heart, Madam," said he, at last, "ought to have taught you that a King cannot dispense with the laws of nature more than other men. So pure and intense a passion as I have for Lionette is not of a character to be easily extinguished. Why did you not exert your power to render me insensible? I should not then have felt the grief I have to-day, nor the happiness you speak of. This choice of a great princess or of a fairy who would deign to receive my vows and my crown--this happiness, I say, does not at all affect me. Is it necessary that to be happy I must sacrifice myself for ever to the whims of my people? I must choose for myself. I would willingly make them happy. I feel a pleasure even in desiring and being able to do so--but what can it signify to them who I give them for their Queen? I value my greatness only because it enables me to elevate her whom I love. This sweet pleasure would induce me to support the weight of a crown; without it, what would be every other enjoyment? And am I compelled, because I am their master, to be deprived of the only pleasure I sigh for? No, Madam; in giving them Lionette I consider that I make them as happy as I make myself. Should they refuse to receive her, they will repent their temerity; and whoever ventures to oppose me will find that my love has not made me forget I am a king."
"Proceed, ungrateful one! Proceed to destroy me!" said the Fairy. "You know too well all the violence of my love for you, and you only pretend not to see it to overwhelm me the more by your severity. It is I--it is I only--who will expose myself to the danger of resisting thy base inclinations. Dare to punish me, and so complete the measure of your crimes! But how wilt thou do it? Thou art in my power, and the necklace which I hold, and which dropped from thine arm yesterday in my room, will revenge me for thy ingratitude." In saying this, she arose, and touching the King with her wand as he advanced to recover his mistress's love-token, she transformed him into a cock; then, opening one of the windows, she threw him down into the court of the palace; after which, assembling the Council, she informed them that the King had absented himself upon urgent business, and she, not being able to remain longer in that kingdom, had determined to appoint a regent. This affair concluded, she ascended her chariot and disappeared from their sight.
The King was dizzy with his fall, but his wings had supported him, in spite of himself, and when he had a little recovered his senses he jumped upon a balustrade of white and rose-coloured marble, which surrounded a piece of magnificent water in the centre of the court-yard, to see himself in it. He was astounded at his appearance--not but that he was the most beautiful bird in the world; his body seemed as though it was covered with emeralds,--his wings were of a bright rose-colour, and on his head was a crest of brilliants, which threw out a most dazzling light,--his tail was a plume of green and rose-colour,--his feet, of the latter hue, with claws blacker than ebony, and his beak was a single ruby.
We will leave this unhappy King reflecting upon the cruelty of this transformation, and return to Lionette, whom we left still more unhappy. This beautiful Princess, after having been six months amongst the tigers of the Fairy Tigreline, deploring her sad fate, was at length withdrawn from them by the Fairy herself, who pitying her situation, came to seek her and carry her to her palace, with both her unfortunate companions. Then, after caressing them and conducting them to a very comfortable den, she said to the Princess, "My dear Lionette, you have been a sufficiently long time punished for your imprudence in having given away your necklace, without my adding further useless remonstrances to the misery you endure in not being able to change your form until you have recovered that talisman; therefore, my dear child, I shall not scold you any more--on the contrary, I will mitigate your penalty as much as I can, and I am going to prove it to you by restoring your good guardians to their natural forms, that they may have the pleasure of talking to you, and consoling you." Poor Lionette threw herself at the Fairy's feet, and by the tears she shed, evinced at the same time her joy and her sorrow at not being able to answer her. Tigreline touched the Lion and Lioness with her wand; in an instant they resumed their human form, and after embracing the Fairy's knees, they embraced Lionette a thousand times, who returned their caresses as well as she could.
After this affecting scene, at which even Tigreline herself could not restrain her tears, she thus addressed the old man and his wife: "Good people, the days of your transformation will not be reckoned in the term of your existence, neither will Lionette's when she has passed through hers. Live to serve and console her until the time of her severe punishment shall have ended. I will not have her shut up any longer; she can run freely about my gardens and in my forest; as for yourselves, you will remain in my palace, and have charge of her. Let us wait patiently for time to bring about a more happy termination to this adventure than I can dare to hope for, and at least by our fortitude cause Fate to blush for her injustice." The Fairy ceased speaking, and embraced Lionette with all her heart. Lionette's was so full that she shed a torrent of tears, and uttered groans which increased the affliction both of the Fairy and the good people.
She spent her days in the forest, hunting game, which the Fairy had ordered to be put there for her. The tigers respected and saluted her whenever she passed. She reclined during the heat of the day in the most secluded and shady places, meditating on her fate, and feeling less distressed at her own situation than at the absence or the loss of Prince Coquerico. She sighed affectionately at the remembrance of him, and her greatest grief was her separation from him. She scrawled with her talons on the barks of the trees rudely formed initials, hearts and arrows, and wept over her lover's and her own misfortune. At night she returned to her den, and to the Fairy, who showed her great kindness. The old man and his wife amused her by relating anecdotes to her.
One day that she was at the Fairy's with her guardians, she seized a sheet of paper and a pen, and wrote a request to the Fairy that she would tell her who she was. She presented it to Tigreline, who, as she was very clever, contrived to read what the Lioness had written. (No one but a Fairy could well have deciphered it.) She sighed, and raised her eyes to Heaven, then looking affectionately at Lionette, she said, "I am going to satisfy you, my dear Lionette. The trials that mortals encounter often serve as lessons to persons of your rank. May it please the just gods that those which you have endured from the commencement of your life be the only trials ordained for you. But do not cease to bear them with resignation and courage. You are a Princess, my dear child; they did not deceive you when they told you so; you are the daughter of the King of the Island of Gold; the Queen, your mother, died in giving birth to you, and the King, your father, resolved not to marry again, that he might preserve the crown for you. You were scarcely four years old when a fugitive Queen, driven from her kingdom, came to implore your father's assistance to regain the throne that her rebellious subjects had made her descend from, for having persisted in reigning to the prejudice of her only son, whom she detained at a distance from the capital, for fear he should claim the sceptre.
"This ambitious Princess, perceiving that the King, your father, would afford his assistance too slowly for her impatience, turned her thoughts in another direction. She cared not where she reigned, provided she did reign. She therefore resolved to marry your father; but knowing he did not wish for an increase of family that might deprive you of the crown, and that consequently as long as you lived he would never marry, she came to consult me. She did not attempt to conceal from me her sanguinary intentions respecting you; and I knew if I were mistress of the necklace that she wore, I should be able to save your life.  I listened, therefore, quietly to her, notwithstanding the horror that these propositions gave me of her. 'Queen,' said I to her, 'you will never obtain your object until I have possession of your necklace. Give it to me, and be sure of the success of your undertaking.' 'A Fairy who presided at my birth,' said she, 'commanded that I should always wear it.' Those were her only words; but since it has not prevented my falling from the throne to which my birth had entitled me, I part with it willingly, and place it in your hands, relying much more on your assistance than on the pretended charm to make me happy.' 'Go,' said I, 'return to the Island of Gold, and wait patiently the effect of my power, and above all, do not attempt the life of the young Princess; I will serve you without adopting such cruel means.'
"She returned to the Island, and after some time, married your father. That very day I transported you, with the King and the Queen, into the cavern where the old man found you, and changed them both into Lions. The King because I feared his weakness, and the Queen to punish her for her wickedness. I not only took from her the power of doing you any harm, but obliged her to take care of you. As for the King, I knew I need not inspire him with feelings of humanity; he retained them, notwithstanding the natural ferocity of the animal into which I had transformed him."
Poor Lionette at these words interrupted the Fairy by a melancholy roar. Tigreline smiled, and caressing the Lioness, "Take courage, my dear girl," said she; "you mourn the death of a good father; your susceptible heart will feel equal joy in learning that I have saved his life; that he is at present residing in a part of the world to which I transported him after I had cured his wound; and that he is as anxious to see you again as you can possibly desire." Lionette, who was couched upon a great stone at the feet of the Fairy, licked her hand softly, to show her gratitude, and her eyes sparkled with so much pleasure that the Fairy, delighted at the effect of her good-tidings, kissed her most tenderly. "As for the Lioness, your mother-in-law," continued Tigreline, "she died, not from grief at losing the Lion, but from rage at finding her projects frustrated by his death, which she really believed; and the tears you have shed for her were far more than she deserved for the unwilling care she took of you."
The Fairy had arrived at this point in her story, when in at the window flew a cock of singular beauty, and perched upon her shoulder; they were all very much astonished; the Fairy, who was spinning, let fall her spindle, but quickly recovering herself, she held out her finger to the bird, which jumped upon it, and flapping its wings in token of gratitude, crowed out "Coquerico" two or three times. At the first note the Lioness took fright, and ran off as fast as possible,  her guardians following her. In the meanwhile, Tigreline examined the bird, and seeing how wonderfully beautiful he was, immediately unravelled the mystery of this adventure. "Prince," said she, "I believe I know you, and I am much deceived if you have not just told me your name." The Prince (for it was he) stooped his beak to her feet, as making a low bow to the Fairy. "Oh, Heavens!" cried she, "is it possible there should be such a complicated chain of misfortunes. The barbarous being who has reduced you to this sad state has only allowed you the power of pronouncing a name which is the cause of all kinds of evil to you. It has even now occasioned your Princess to fly from you, and perhaps it may have been the last time in your life that you could have seen her."
The Cock at these words looked at the Fairy with amazement; he had only perceived in the room a lioness and two old people; he could not comprehend these words of Tigreline; she read his thoughts, for he could not express them. "She was here, I tell you," replied she, "and I forgive you for not recognising her; but if my sister, the cruel Cornue, has been able to change you into a cock, has she not the power also of turning the Princess into a lion?" The Cock felt as if he should faint at this cruel news. "Oh, Fate! pitiless Fate!" continued the Fairy, "how blind are thy decrees! Why dost thou punish the innocent, and let the guilty live?" Her thoughts would have quite absorbed her if her eyes had not fallen upon the poor bird, who had fallen down, and appeared dying. She took him in her arms, and giving him some wonderful liquid to smell, he recovered his senses, but sighed bitterly at being compelled to see the light again. "Do not distress yourself, my dear Prince," said the Fairy, "I will use all my skill to assist you; but to ensure my success you must second my endeavours. I cannot render you perfectly happy so long as Cornue is in possession of the necklace, and it is only through you that I can recover it. Repose yourself, dear Prince; my books that I am going to consult to-night will enlighten me as to what we shall do to-morrow."
The King could not sufficiently express his gratitude--he pressed his beak on the Fairy's hand, and squeezed her arm gently with his claw--in short, he displayed as much feeling as he possibly could. Tigreline, after giving him something to eat and to drink, which he scarcely touched, placed him upon a shelf in her cabinet, and then saluting him, retired to her chamber to set about the work she had promised to undertake for him.
While this was passing, poor Lionette, overcome with a fear she could not recover from, fled with all her might, and had already gone far beyond the Forest of Tigers, notwithstanding those animals had used all their endeavours to detain her, for they were all fond of her, and several of them were even in love with her; but she had forced her way through every obstacle, and having no guide but terror, still believing the Cock was pursuing her, she ran a hundred leagues at once, and never stopped till her strength failed her. Her poor guardians called to her and sought for her in vain; they returned very much distressed at daybreak to the Fairy, to tell her of Lionette's flight.
The Fairy, who knew that if Lionette went beyond the limits of the forest she had no longer any power over her, and that she would be entirely at Cornue's mercy, left her unwillingly to her fate, and thought only of being of service to King Coquerico. She entered the cabinet wherein he had passed the night, to tell him what he had to do. He flapped his wings at her arrival, and flew to the ground to kiss the hem of her robe. The Fairy took him on her hand, placed him on a little table, and drew it up in front of an arm-chair, in which she seated herself. "Great King," said she, "the destiny that has nursed you since your birth commands me to tell you that you will not regain your natural form but upon very severe conditions. You must be sufficiently fortunate to recover from Cornue the necklace given to you by Lionette. If you fail to do so, you can never become a human being again but by marrying Cornue. In that case, if Lionette, whom my wicked sister insists upon being a witness to this ceremony, can restrain the grief it must cause her, I foresee that you may become happy at last; but if she have not the courage to support the terrible sight of that marriage, I will not be answerable for anything." Coquerico at these words bent his head and shed tears, at which the Fairy was much affected. "A tender heart," said the Fairy, "is pardonable, and even desirable in a King. Your grief, according to this principle, is very excusable, but you must not abandon yourself too much to sorrow. Leave to vulgar minds, my lord, complaints and lamentations, and without wishing to be stronger than humanity demands, courageously resist the blows of fate, and if you only succeed in testing your fortitude, and finding it cannot be shaken, you ought to be content. It is the first of all advantages, and yet one we rarely ask of the gods, because we do not know the value of it. Take this bottle, and endeavour to throw a drop of the liquid that is in it upon Cornue. That will make her swoon away, and you will then obtain your object."
Coquerico, who was in no hurry to depart, looked at the Fairy to ask her to explain herself still further: she understood what he would say. She related in a few words Lionette's history. He thanked her in the most affectionate manner he could, and he now recollected that the Fairy, in speaking of her previously, had more than once called her the Princess. He was enchanted to learn that this lovely girl was of such high birth, but that did not increase his affection for her. Nothing, indeed, could augment it. It was not so with respect to his indignation against Cornue. Every moment it became stronger, particularly when the Fairy, at the end of her narration, told him that the unhappy Princess had taken flight at his crowing, as well as at his name, from the antipathy that lions had naturally to the crowing of a cock, that the malicious Cornue had increased it in the case of Lionette, that he had so frightened her that she had flown beyond the bounds of the forest, and that she might have fallen already into Cornue's power, as, having once quitted the Forest of Tigers, she could not possibly re-enter it till she had resumed her own shape.
King Coquerico was instantly anxious to depart, and indicated it as well as he could to Tigreline, who could understand at half a word. After embracing him, and fastening the bottle under his right wing, she opened her window, and he flew away, perfectly resolved that rather than crow to frighten the lions, he would be devoured by them.
To what fearful extent can passions increase in the hearts of those who do not try to conquer them? The implacable Cornue, distracted by turns, or rather at the same moment, by the most violent love and by the most frightful jealousy, spent her days in the Opal Palace, meditating the deepest revenge against her rival and her lover. What more could she desire? Were they not sufficiently wretched? They could not recognise each other, and flew from one another as soon as they met. Could anything more cruel be imagined? Poor Lionette, overcome by fatigue, fell down from faintness and fright upon some beautiful green turf, which answered as a bed for the moment. She had run an hundred leagues without stopping, as we have said before, and with incredible swiftness, for she had quitted the Fairy in the evening, and by sunrise next morning found herself in this strange country. So true it is that fear lends one wings. She looked around her, and saw nothing but that green sward, through which flowed a clear stream, refreshing the grass and the little wild flowers that adorned it. She slept there profoundly after drinking of the beautiful water, which possessed the property not only to quench thirst, but at the same time to appease hunger.
She slept for fifteen hours. When she awoke she felt much refreshed, and continued her journey along the bank, at the end of which she saw a palace, of architecture as simple as it was wonderful. She entered it by a beautiful portico of foliage; in it she saw cabinets, chambers, and galleries, all formed of green hedges, and what charmed her particularly was, that in the middle of each room were large groups of flowers of all sorts, that greeted her with most friendly bows, and said with one accord, as she approached, "Good morning, beautiful Lionette." This wonderfully astonished her; she stopped at a tube-rose plant that had saluted her still more graciously than the rest. "Lovely flowers," said she to them, "by what happy chance is it that you have given me the power of speech, that all the skill and friendship of the generous Tigreline could not restore to me? Is it you that have done this? Tell me, that I may return my thanks to you?" "The stream that has quenched your thirst, beautiful Lionette," replied one of the tube-roses, "has the merit of it; we have no power, and it is only when we are watered by it that we have the faculty of hearing, seeing, and expressing ourselves. We are flowers from the garden of the Fairy Cornue; for some time past she has been very sad; she came to converse with us, but we were unable to comfort her; perhaps that task was reserved for you; you must use your endeavours. She will not return for two days, as she was here yesterday; her palace is some distance from this; wait for her, we will do all we possibly can to amuse you till she returns."
The Tube-rose then ceased speaking, although she was naturally a little talkative, but she yielded from politeness to Lionette's desire to ask some questions. "I should like to know, obliging Tube-rose," said Lionette, "if Cornue, of whom you speak, and to whom you belong, is a beautiful fairy; and then I should be obliged by your telling me how you knew my name and who I was as soon as you saw me." "A Rose-tree, who is the oracle of this place," replied the Tube-rose, "at the last sacrifice made to it by the Fairy, our mistress, predicted that a great princess, in the form of a lion, would one day come hither, and that here she would terminate all her distress. The Fairy displayed immoderate joy at this; she redoubled the incense and the bees, they being the only victims that are immolated here. This is an answer to your two questions at once, for by the Fairy's delight you can easily conceive her good intentions towards you."
The innocent Lionette thought there was great truth in the tube-rose's conjectures; she thanked her heartily, and begged she would inform her where the Rose-tree was, that she might consult it as to what conduct she ought to adopt. The Tube-rose directed her, and she soon found the spot; it was not far from the cabinet of tube-roses. This apartment had some appearance of a temple, the hedges forming an arch above the Rose-tree, which preserved it from the heat of the sun; a little balustrade of jasmine and pomegranate trees surrounded this beautiful plant, which was covered with so many roses that it was quite dazzling. The Lioness was obliged to shut her eyes once or twice: she tremblingly approached the balustrade, and prostrating herself, respectfully said, "Divinity of this lovely place, deign to receive my homage, and tell me my destiny."
The Rose-tree at these words appeared to be much agitated, the leaves and flowers trembled, and became pale. Then a voice interrupted by sobs issued from its branches, and Lionette heard the following words:--
To the severe decree of Fate
In blind submission bend.
A Princess, most unfortunate,
Will here her sorrows end.
The Princess was frightened at the indications of grief the Rose-tree gave way to, and if the first words overwhelmed her, the latter encouraged her a little. "Alas!" said she, "I fear nothing but the prolongation of my existence; if I should end my miserable life here, I should bless the fate that led me to this spot; but wise and generous Rose-tree, before ending my days, may I not know if he to whom I would willingly consecrate them still lives; and if he is happy, wherever he may be? This is my only anxiety. I should die without one regret if I knew that his destiny was decided." The rose-bush was again strongly agitated, and thus replied:--
For the last time, at thy desire,
I raise my warning voice:--
Thy lover only will expire
Shouldst thou oppose his choice.
"Ah! wise Divinity," exclaimed the affectionate Lioness, "I will ask you nothing more; if he live, I am too happy. May I alone suffer from the severity of the Fairies! Their persecutions appear as nothing to me if he be exempted from them, and I permitted to see him happy. Ah! why should I fetter his inclinations? Alas! the choice which I should be opposed to, whatever it might be, would never offend me; what can he owe me? and what can I offer him worthy of his merits? The unfortunate Lionette not having it in her power to make him happy, should not prevent him from becoming so, at least I may be permitted the desire of being the cause of it." Saying this, she retired to the cabinet of the tube-roses, where she passed the night talking of her shepherd, and telling her love for him to her faithful friend, who in return more fully informed her what she knew of the Fairy Cornue and of her floral companions. "As for the oracular Rose-tree," said she, "all we know is, it is not of the rose-tree race, it was here when we came, and I believe that the Fairy, to embellish its dwelling-place, transplanted us hither; it speaks without being watered, and appears but little amused by our conversation. It is naturally melancholy, and you have seen for yourself it has a perfect knowledge of the past, the present, and the future. The Fairy passes whole days, when she comes here, in talking to it; rarely does she do us that honour, and I think it is in consequence of the vexatious things she hears from it that she feels no pleasure in talking to us. A pomegranate blossom, a very great friend of mine, often repeated their conversation to me. The Rose-tree conceals from the Fairy what it is--the Fairy cannot discover it; all one can make out is, that it was not always a rose-tree."
She had spoken thus far, when a pink, a ranunculus, and some other flowers entered, and after paying their compliments to the Lioness, they announced to the Tube-rose that Cornue intended to visit them a day earlier than usual; that they might expect her the following morning, and that she proposed making a pompous sacrifice to the Rose-tree; that they were ignorant of the cause of this grand ceremony, but thought it denoted the approach of some great event. The flowers wondered among themselves what this great event could be, without coming to any definite conclusion.
They then talked about the weather, a conversation in which they shone greatly, and which would have amused Lionette had she been in another frame of mind, but she spoke little, and listened less. At sunset the flowers retired each to their home; and Lionette, after taking a very slight repast of herbs from the mossy ground, and drinking the water from the wonderful rivulet, went to sleep at the feet of her faithful friend the Tube-rose. The first rays of the sun having touched her eyelids, she awoke: the flowers were already on the move. Lionette arose, and repaired to the Rose-tree. She laid herself down in one of the corners of its little temple, and saw all the flowers arrive, and place themselves artistically to do honour to the Fairy, who did not keep them long waiting. The whole of the temple glowed with the beautiful colours of these various flowers; some formed themselves into arbours, others into garlands, crowns, girandoles, in short, into a thousand and a thousand kinds of ornaments, so marvellously arranged that the general effect was dazzling. The sweetness of their perfume was exquisite; and that which drew Lionette from her reflections was, that after this arrangement, and on notice of the Fairy's approach, they commenced so melodious a concert that the most melancholy beings would have forgotten their grief, and have yielded to the sweet enchantment in which this music wrapped the soul. The Tube-rose, above all, was perfection. It charmed Lionette completely. She listened with delight to this wonderful melody, and admired the poetry of the hymn which they sang; when suddenly she saw the redoubtable Cornue enter, blazing with jewels, but more frightfully ugly than can be described. She was seized with a horror at this sight which she could not account for. She reproached herself for it. "Is it possible," said she to herself, "that I can be still affected by the weak prejudice of which my sex is so susceptible? Ought we to decide upon the qualities of the mind by the beauty or ugliness of the countenance? What feelings must I inspire if they judge poor Lionette by her form? Judge thyself before thou judgest others, and conceal not from thyself that if ugliness induces thee to take an aversion to any one, thou must thyself inspire a terrible horror."
While Lionette was constraining herself to vanquish the dreadful feeling that the presence of the Fairy had possessed her with, the latter, to the sound of joyful music which echoed through the temple of the Rose-tree, advanced towards the balustrade and saw the Lioness, who, seated in the corner to which she had retired, crouched in the most humble manner as the Fairy gazed on her. Cornue's countenance brightened with intense joy at this sight. "Oracle, whose words are always those of truth," exclaimed she, "you have promised me that I should one day find that which I have sought for so earnestly, and which doubtless you have reserved as a recompense for the many honours I have paid to you. Come," said she to the fairies who followed her, "chain this wild beast, and fasten it to my chariot, after which let us immolate our victims." Four fairies threw a chain about Lionette, who allowed herself to be dragged out of the temple notwithstanding the grief shown by the flowers, that looked as they do when Aurora sheds her gentle dew upon them, for they all loved Lionette; but their tears did not in the least soften the inflexible heart of the jealous Cornue. The Rose-tree shot from its stem a flame which consumed the offering of bees which the fairies had just placed upon a little golden altar they had drawn towards it. Its roses became amaranth colour. Cornue was quite alarmed at this change. "What prodigy is this?" cried she. "Divinity of these realms, do you protect my rival, or is it the joy of delivering her into my power that has produced this mysterious change?" The Rose-tree shuddered at these words, and with a strong and terrible voice thus answered the Fairy:--
Immolate to my just wrath
The first fowl that shall cross thy path.
Mercy to it dare to show
None thyself shall ever know!
The Rose-tree after this closed its flowers and leaves, and by this action appeared to bid the Fairy depart. She left the temple much discontented, and remounted her chariot, to which they had fastened Lionette, with three other lions who were very handsome. She took the reins that united these animals and drove slowly over the velvet lawn by the side of the rivulet, the gentle murmuring of which favoured her meditations, until one of the fairies, following in another chariot, exclaimed that she saw a fowl in the water, which appeared to be drowning. Cornue stopped her chariot, and ordered them to catch and bring to her the bird that so luckily came to reconcile her with the oracular Rose-tree. The fairies who were the lightest clad threw themselves into the stream, and caught the poor bird, which was already insensible. They carried it to Cornue, who was not at all surprised at its beauty, for she instantly recognised, to her great dismay, the unfortunate King Coquerico. "Oh, Heavens!" exclaimed she to herself; "is it thus, cruel oracle, thou wouldst have me understand thee?" She held the King up by his feet, and having made him eject the water that he had swallowed, he reopened his eyes, already darkened by the approach of death, then quickly touching him with her wand, said to him, "Resume thy proper form, and save me thereby from the horror of taking thy life, upon which mine depends." At these words the King, safe and sound, appeared more brilliant than the sun, his royal mantle on his shoulders, and his crown of brilliants gracefully encircling his temples. What became of Lionette at this sight? Her lover stood before her--her lover a king, and more beautiful than the day! She would have been speechless with astonishment even had she not resolved beforehand that she would not speak to the Fairy until she had discovered her motive for ill-treating her so cruelly. She remained silent, therefore, but her eyes were so affectionately fixed on the King, that if he had not been pre-occupied by the adventure that had just occurred, he would easily have recognised his unhappy Princess.
"What more do you require of me, Madam?" said he to Cornue. "Is it to make me feel my miseries more keenly that you have restored me to my form of which you so unjustly deprived me? or do you at last repent that you have done me so much mischief?" "Ungrateful ever, and still more ungrateful," replied the Fairy, presenting her hand for him to assist her to descend from her chariot. "Come and justify yourself, and do not accuse me." So saying, she stepped with him upon the mossy bank of the rivulet, and leaving her chariot and her companions at some distance, spoke thus to the King, whom she made to sit down beside her:--"I need scarcely tell you that I have loved you from your infancy; the care that I have taken of you must convince you of it, if you still remember it, for I do not expect gratitude for such poor benefits. I will only slightly touch upon what has hitherto passed, for I experienced but cruel ingratitude, which my affection for you disguised under the name of indifference, arising, perhaps, from my lack of beauty. I believed for some time that by kindness I should overcome this coldness. 'Beauty,' I said, 'is but a poor possession--a sensible man is only caught at first by it. Unlimited power--a fairy who condescends so far as to desire to please a mortal is always sufficiently beautiful.' I discovered but too late the abuse of my confidence, and saw with horror that I had a rival. What did I then do to be revenged, but what every woman would have done? Far from availing myself of my power, I only exercised my discretion. I took Lionette away from you, but I did not kill her--what excess of weakness!--for she was at my mercy--and what a proof of my love do you not recognise in that weakness? Your insults and contemptuous coldness drove me to despair. I deprived you of your form, and I left you. What greater cruelty could you show me than I had inflicted on myself? No, all your hatred did not torture me as much. In what misery did I pass my days after that frightful separation! I accused myself of cruelty, I forgot all your injustice, and when, becoming more calm, I thought of it as it really had been, I reproached myself with having given you cause for it by too much vivacity--in short, your image always present in my mind, the thought of your anger constantly weighing on my heart, I could get no rest. Some of the fairies who attended on me in the Opal Palace advised me to consult the oracular Rose-tree respecting my destiny. This Oracle, without any one knowing the reason, has established itself here, or at least has planted itself in the Sward of Eloquence (the name that is given to that which you behold here, from the rivulet which surrounds it, because it possesses the faculty of making everything speak that is watered by it). Persecuted by my enemies, I came at last to consult this new Oracle. I found at first some relief to my troubles; I took great pleasure in embellishing its abode; by my art I caused all kinds of flowers to grow here; I raised a little temple of verdure, and watering all the flowers from the Rivulet of Eloquence, I enabled them to converse with the Rose-tree and entertain it. The information I gathered respecting my destiny made me grateful to the Oracle, and gave me confidence in its predictions. I came often to question it, and I endeavoured to discover by whom it could possibly be inspired. I ascertained that it was not one of those deities who take pleasure in manifesting themselves to mortals, as at Delphi. It was a man transformed into a rose-tree, and protected by a power unknown to me, and carefully kept a secret. I offered him all my power as a reward for what he had promised me, but he constantly declined it. At last, having predicted an event which has occurred to me this very day, and the commencement of my happiness, he commanded me to sacrifice to him the first fowl that I should see. Judge if all the happiness I could expect from its promises is to be weighed in the balance against your life--for that is what he demands of me. Could I feel, could I know, a comfort, deprived of it? Let the Oracle be angry with me, overwhelm me if it will with the most dreadful calamities, I will not avoid them by the sacrifice of your life. Continue, if you dare, to treat me inhumanly, cruelly--I will submit to it, provided I can still behold you; for I have resolved to suffer everything your hatred can inflict upon me, sooner than consent to immolate you to the strange caprice of the Rose-tree."
Cornue ceased speaking, and the King, having expressed his acknowledgments, replied,--"What can I do for you, Madam? My heart is mine no longer; I have no wish to deceive you; not only is such perfidy incompatible with my nature, but you too well know what I think for me to attempt to impose on your credulity, and I owe you too much gratitude for saving my life willingly to deceive you, were it in my power. But why have you preserved one who never can make you happy? Far better would it have been for you to have obeyed your Oracle. Certain that you will always oppose my happiness, I should have received my death at your hands with pleasure, since I can never entertain for you a warmer feeling than gratitude. You would have relieved me from the shame of appearing thankless to you, and from being obliged to drag out an existence far from the object of my eternal affection."
The King was silent, and the Fairy greatly agitated; neither spoke for some time. "What did this deceitful Oracle promise you?" at length inquired the King. "If you can be rendered happy by ending my life, why defer the sacrifice? The generosity you have shown in preserving it, excites in my heart a feeling of emulation. Conduct me to the temple, it will not be you that will immolate me, at least; Love will acquit you, for Love will dispose of my life, as it is he who prevents my making you the mistress of it." "Talk no more of sacrifice," said the Fairy, rising; "your life is too precious for me not to struggle to preserve it, at the risk of all that may happen. Come to my palace, and we will see to-morrow what can be done." She then moved towards her chariot, which she stepped into with the Prince, and the Lions went at such speed that they arrived almost immediately at the Opal Palace.
Here it was that Lionette abandoned herself to the bitterest grief when she saw the Fairy descend from her chariot with the Prince, desiring that her lions might be put into a grotto where a thousand other wild animals were lodged that she drove in harness. "Oh, Heavens!" she cried, "to what am I reduced?" She permitted herself to be led away to the grotto, and retiring into a dark corner, stretched herself upon a little straw, and passed the night groaning at her fate. Some days elapsed without any one disturbing her sad repose; at the end of which time two young fairies came to take four lions, some tigers, and two bears to be hunted for the entertainment of the Fairy and in honour of the King.
As the Princess was ignorant of the purpose for which these animals were selected, she did not speak to the Fairies. But what a situation for her! Her lover, whom she could not doubt was in the Palace, and who could not know her--the severity of the Fairy--the horror of passing her days in this strange place--all gave her a disgust to life, which would not yield to the love she possessed for the King, though it had been redoubled by the sight of him. "Ah, why should I continue to love him?" she exclaimed. "Doubtless he no longer loves me. And to render my punishment the greater, I feel he is more lovely than ever. Let me die; and may he never know the extent of the misery he has caused me. Bereft of his love--bereft of him--why should I regret to die?"
She could not suppose him to be enamoured of Cornue; she tried in vain to think why he was at the Opal Palace; she lamented the timidity that induced her to fly from Tigreline at the crowing of the cock. In recalling to her mind the few circumstances she was cognizant of, she felt convinced that the cock that flew in at the window was certainly the same which was brought to Cornue, and re-transformed upon the Sward of Eloquence. "How contrary is my destiny!" said she. "My heart pants for an object which certainly compels me to fly from it. Let me hasten to put an end to this torment. Can the approach of death be a greater punishment? Coquerico, ungrateful Coquerico, has forgotten me. Why should I any longer doubt it? Let me go and expire at the foot of the Rose-tree, and for ever fly from a place that only aggravates and redoubles my grief."
Fortunately the fairies had not shut the door of the grotto. The wretched Princess stole out, and found herself in Cornue's forest. She heard a great noise of horns and dogs; she entered a thick part of the wood which appeared likely to conceal her. Anxious to let the chase go by, she had thrust herself under some low branches, when she heard a dear voice she could not be mistaken in. This voice spoke to one whom she soon knew to be the Fairy Cornue. "Yes, Madam, I avow it. I have an invincible repugnance to hunt lions ever since the unfortunate Lionette has been changed into one. I know not what has become of her. You wish me to remain in ignorance about her; you object to my taking any means by which I might obtain knowledge of her present position. You wish to kill me. Ah, why, then, do you hesitate, when your Oracle demands my death? Let me go to consult it, or with my sword will I rid myself of a life which is rendered insupportable by your tyranny." "How can you imagine," replied the Fairy, "that I should allow you to seek this Oracle who demands your death? For it is not that he desires a cock as a sacrifice more than any other bird--it is you yourself that the barbarous Oracle would have immolated; and do you think I will consent to that? I love you, and you hate me--that is all my offence in your eyes. And if I were to restore Lionette to you, you would soon forget even the trifling gratitude you might profess to entertain for me." "I," exclaimed the King, "forget it? Never! I forget that I was indebted to you for the happiness of my existence? Do not imagine it. Restore her to her natural shape, and I swear to you I will agree to everything that depends upon myself. You will command my obedience, and my friendship will be unbounded. In fact, if I cannot give you my heart, at least there will be so little apparent difference, that you yourself will scarcely perceive it." "Enough," said the Fairy; "I trust to your oath, and I will yield to your impatience. To-morrow we will proceed to the temple of the Rose-tree. I will expose myself to its anger. I will try to appease it, and then we shall see if your word is inviolable."
The King and the Fairy passed on, and the Princess, delighted to find her lover as faithful as she had believed him inconstant, turned her footsteps towards the temple of the Rose-tree, and arrived there late at night.
All the flowers were asleep. She did not disturb any of them; she went and lay at the feet of the Tube-rose--she did not sleep. The beauty of the night filled her soul, already prepared to receive delightful impressions, with the purest joy, unmingled with a shade of sorrow. The amiable Coquerico, faithful and loving, appeared in her idea so worthy of being loved, that she did not regret all she had suffered for him. She never thought about his being a King; she disdained every advantage that was the mere consequence of chance. He was worthy of her affection--that was all she considered. Cornue's reproaches had revealed her jealousy. Lionette in an instant therefore understood why the Fairy had so ill-treated her; and as the happiest love is subject to reverses, she distressed herself at what the King would have to suffer if he resisted the Fairy's passion. She immediately determined to abandon her lover to her rival in order to save his life, which the Oracle had told her he would lose if she opposed his choice. Some mournful reflections upon this situation succeeded to those that had so pleasantly occupied her. She determined to seek the Oracle without delay. She arose very quietly, and entered the temple as the day broke.
King Coquerico was not in a better situation. The horror with which Cornue had inspired him by her new barbarity in wishing his mistress to perish by his hand under the pretence of affording him the entertainment of a lion hunt, was unconquerable: his patience was exhausted, and he only feigned to agree to her wishes in order to gain time to be revenged, by getting the necklace out of her possession.
The Fairy had luckily not noticed the little bottle under his wing the day she restored him to his form; he therefore still possessed it, and trusted it would be of great use to him. He retired early that night, under pretence of being fatigued, and the Fairy begged he would wear the ornaments that she had ordered to be put into his room, that he might make a grander figure in the eyes of the Rose-tree. He was no sooner in his own apartment than the recollection of what Cornue had said, and of what he had promised, threw him into deep distress, as he foresaw that if he could not anticipate the artful Fairy's intention, he should only obtain from this jealous enemy the pleasure of once more seeing Lionette, in return for which Cornue would undoubtedly insist upon his marrying her.
This cruel thought made him more eager for revenge, and that feeling was increased by his observing a large basket made of pearls and garnets in filigree work, which stood on a table beside him. He made no doubt it contained the presents she had requested him to wear. He raised the white taffeta embroidered in gold which covered this elegant basket, and perceived with astonishment, mingled with rage, the royal robes that are worn at the marriage of the Kings of the Fortunate Islands. As they were the work of the Fairies, it is impossible to describe their magnificence.
A moment afterwards, recollecting that he should appear thus attired before the Princess, he could not divest himself of the idea that occurred to him, that perhaps such magnificence might make an impression on her. However, believing the Fairy to be asleep, he resolved to put his plan in execution without delay, and throwing all the ornaments back into the basket, he ascended a private staircase which led to Cornue's bed-chamber. He arrived without any obstacle at her bed-side; the curtains were open, and held back by Cupids of mother-of-pearl; these also supported crystal chandeliers filled with wax lights, to illumine the room. When she could not sleep the Cupids sang, or read to her the news of the day, Gazettes, or fresh stories that were written about the Fairies. On that night they must certainly have been reading to her as long a story as this, for she snored terribly. She could not have foreseen the King's unseasonable visit, for no one could look so ugly in bed as she did. She had neither rouge nor patches; and her livid and unhealthy-looking skin, gave her more the appearance of a corpse than of a living and amorous Fairy. Her horn assisted in making her more hideous. She had the fatal necklace round her neck, which was partly uncovered. The King was not at all enchanted by the sight of her. His desire to free himself from so hideous an object made him hastily draw forth his little bottle, in order to fling some drops of its contents over the Fairy, when all the Cupids suddenly began to cry, "Who goes there? who goes there?" The Fairy opened her eyes, and the King remained more surprised and more distressed than it is possible to say. "What do you here, Prince?" said she, sitting upright; "what has brought you into my room without having sent me word of your intention?" She would have asked him a thousand other questions if she had had the time, for the King, more alarmed at her ugliness than at the menacing tone she gave to her words, allowed her to talk, and did not answer her. "What would you?" she said again. "Explain your object."
"I am very sorry, Madam, to have disturbed your rest," at length said the King; "but not knowing your projects, before I definitively pledge my word to you I wish to know what you propose to exact from me." "Would there not have been time to-morrow," said the Fairy, "to have asked me this mighty question, and was it necessary to awake me for so silly a purpose? Go to your rest, my Lord, and to-morrow we shall be in a condition for you to propose, and for me to resolve." The King, truly seeing no other way of getting out of this embarrassment, was very well disposed to return to his room, when the Fairy called him back. "Come here," cried she, "where are you going? Ought you not to apologize for your imprudence, or do you think you have not committed any?" The King, annoyed by this fresh obstacle, which prevented him from retiring, said, "Ah, Madam, do not make me commit a greater fault, in any longer disturbing your rest; it ought to be precious to me, and the respect I owe you----" "No, no," replied the Fairy, "approach; I do not wish to sleep any more, and I will absolutely know what brought you here; do not fear to offend me, but dread to conceal your feelings from me. I wish for a candid avowal, and," continued she, looking at him most affectionately, "I expect you will entertain me as a punishment for awaking me."
The King, at this disagreeable proposition, thought he should lose all patience, but being in the power of this terrible person he suppressed his first movement, and seating himself, out of respect, some distance from the Fairy's bed, said, "Since you wish it, Madam, I will obey you. I came, not thinking you were asleep, to ask you to restore the Princess to her natural form immediately, and to declare, without that, I cannot follow you to the temple of the rose-tree." "Truly," replied the Fairy, much annoyed at this commencement, "this is a beautiful subject to disturb every one about; could not that have been deferred till to-morrow?" "No, Madam," replied the King, "and I am very sorry I did not urge it yesterday, without being under the necessity of waiting another day." "Well," said the Fairy, "what will you do for me in return, and what have I to expect from your gratitude?" "I have told you, Madam, the strongest friendship, and all that an affectionate heart could further give----" "Friendship," replied the Fairy; "no, no, King Coquerico, it is not at such a price that I dispense my favours--it must be of more value than that. Shall I tell you what it is? It is not worth while to wait till to-morrow to inform you. I cannot ask you for your love, I am convinced of that; you are incapable of feeling it for me; you have made me sufficiently understand that; but I will forgive you upon condition that to-morrow you will solemnly give me your faith."
The King, prepared as he had been for this event by Tigreline, could not quietly listen to her discourse, and find himself so near renouncing for ever a Princess whom he loved, without feeling it most cruelly. "If my heart were free," he replied, in a tone of voice changed by the excessive effort he made to suppress his fury, "I could offer you the one or the other; but, Madam, I have disposed of my heart beyond my own control, and I will not offer you my hand, the possession of which would make you miserable, for at every instant I should make you feel, in spite of myself, that, my heart being separated from it, I was not worthy the honour you conferred on me. The gratitude I owe you, therefore, obliges me absolutely to refuse you, at the peril of my life." "We shall see that to-morrow," replied Cornue. "Go and strengthen or change your noble resolutions; but remember that if you resist mine, it will not be your life that will answer to me for it. I shall know how to find, in spite of you, the sensitive place of a heart you assure me is so indifferent."
The King, maddened by rage and grief, departed, and returned to his own apartments, where he abandoned himself to the deepest despair. Twenty times he was about to plunge his sword in his heart, and sacrifice his life to the Princess; but thinking he might perhaps revenge her, or at least save her from the fury of the Fairy, he abandoned that frightful idea, and resolved upon going to the temple of the Rose-tree.
As soon as the morning appeared, the palace of the Fairy resounded with music and nuptial hymns; she sent to know if the King was ready, giving an order that they should attend to him as her husband. A pompous chariot was in the palace court. All the fairies from far and near were summoned to this ceremony; they arrived from every quarter. Tigreline only announced that she should be at the temple. At length the King appeared; his pale and thin face indicated that he was the victim of the sacrifice, rather than the person to whom it was to be offered. With all that he was as lovely as the day.
Cornue was attired as a Queen; all the skill in the world had been employed about her robes. She seated herself with the King in her chariot, and all the fairies followed according to their rank, riding upon eagles, dragons, tigers, and leopards. A dozen beautiful young fairies of the Court of Cornue, led in couples a dozen lions, upon which, during all the journey, the King had his eyes fixed, seeking to discover if the unfortunate Lionette were not amongst them. They set out amidst a flourish of drums and trumpets, and they arrived at the Sward of Eloquence: the flowers were already on the boundaries, and formed two ranks six feet high, between which the brilliant procession passed, amidst loud acclamations and joyous songs.
The temple was crowded. The most beautiful flowers had formed two thrones of exquisite taste, and the coup-d'œil was enchanting, so well was everything arranged. The unfortunate Lionette was already in the temple, and the pleasure of seeing Tigreline there, whom she remembered directly, had relieved in a slight degree the deep grief she was in at being compelled to witness the happiness of her cruel rival. "I shall die, Madam," said she to the Fairy, "but at any rate let the King know, after my decease, that my affection has equalled his own, and that I pardon him a fault which fate has made him commit. I do not condemn him for his inconstancy." She wept so bitterly in finishing these words, and she was so overcome by the violence of her grief, that she did not see the King and the Fairy enter. Cornue first approached the Rose-tree. "I come," said she, "to redeem my word. Divinity of this place, you demanded of me the sacrifice of a fowl. I have too well understood your oracle; behold what you required, and I think I shall interpret your wishes by demanding of him, at the foot of your altar, the hand he is so reluctant to bestow on me; a sacrifice which is to him greater than that of his life." The Rose-tree drooped its leaves and blossoms, as if in approval of the words of the Fairy. Cornue then turning to the King, who had remained a few steps behind her, said, "Approach, my Lord, and fulfil the decree of fate." He was at this moment much more occupied with what he saw than with what was said to him; he had perceived Tigreline, and he no longer doubted that the lioness at her side was his divine Princess; he looked at her tenderly and sorrowfully, not daring, however, to approach her, for fear of displeasing Tigreline, who had made him a severe sign to prevent him.
Cornue, surprised at his silence, turned towards him, and saw him in this pleasant occupation; then placing on the altar the crown which she held in her hand, in order that the King might put it on her head, she approached him. "What are you about," said she; "is this a time for dreaming?" "I delay my reply, Madam," said the King, without much emotion, "till you shall render to the Princess of the Golden Island the form which you have so unjustly deprived her of; afterwards I will do what gratitude demands of me, and I will not deceive you." Cornue perceiving that it was not time to recede, especially as she saw Tigreline present, her superior in power, and that the day which she had chosen for this ceremony was precisely that on which the fairies are subject to death, was very cautious not to let the King know this, for fear that he should take advantage of those four-and-twenty hours to revenge himself for the cruelty which she had exercised on him and the Princess; yet, nevertheless, she was not willing to delay the fulfilment of her happiness; knowing, therefore, that it was impossible to deceive the King any longer, she turned to Tigreline, who led the lioness to the altar. "My Sister," said Cornue, taking off the necklace and presenting it to Tigreline, "I restore the Princess to you, and you can use your power to make her resume her proper form, but spare her the grief of seeing me crowned by the hand of her lover, and depart with her, as she can never be his."
Tigreline lost not a moment: in lieu of replying to Cornue, the good Fairy touched the lioness with her wand, and the Princess stood before them more beautiful and more amiable than ever. She was by the care of the Fairy clothed magnificently and in the finest taste: she had a dress of cloth of silver, covered with garlands of everlasting flower of gris-de-lin  colour; her beautiful light hair, adorned with diamonds and the same sort of flowers as those on her dress, fell in curls on her shoulders, and made her appear more beautiful than the day. The King was transported: he advanced towards her, and falling on one knee--"Will you permit, beautiful Princess," said he, "that the faith which I have plighted you should be taken from you, and that the unjust Fairy, who has made us so unhappy, should quietly enjoy a crown which should be yours?"
The Princess Lionette, during the time that her lover was speaking, kept her eyes tenderly fixed upon him, and by the tears which gently rolled down her cheeks let him see the effort which she made in giving him up. "I cannot," said she at length, "oppose fate; yes, my dear Prince, you must submit; I release you from your vows, live happy without me, if it be possible for you to do so; and as I must of necessity lose you, I quit this life without a regret, and am happy in dying at having been able to tell you once more without its being a crime that I love you." "Yes, you shall die," cried the furious Cornue; "I have borne enough insults, and that is another happiness which you have not counted amongst those you boast of at this fatal moment!" The King at these words rose from the feet of the Princess, who did not seem alarmed even at seeing her rival advance towards her with a poniard in her hand. He arrested the Fairy with one hand, and with the other drew his sword. "It is I who will perish," cried he, "and you cannot attempt the life of my Princess, which mine will answer for." "Oh, heavens!" cried the Fairy and Lionette at the same time. "Hold!" Tigreline then advanced towards Cornue; she had not spoken till that moment; she had allowed everything to proceed, and those to speak who were most anxious to do so. She raised her wand, and touching Cornue, "Receive," said she, "to-day, the reward of your misdeeds, and witness in your turn the happiness of these two lovers." At the words Cornue remained motionless, but her eyes shone with such terrible fury, that, not being able to find expression for it, her horn seemed on fire, and she foamed with rage. "And you, wise Rose-tree," continued Tigreline, "resume your form, and enjoy the pleasure of embracing your amiable daughter." She had not finished these words when the Rose-tree, bending itself a little, appeared in its true form.
It was that of a man about fifty years of age, nobly made, and magnificently attired; he had a long regal mantle, and a crown of gold, set with precious stones, on his head. Lionette resembled him so extremely that no one in the whole assembly could doubt she was his daughter. That beautiful Princess threw herself into his arms with so much natural delight, that all the company were affected by it. The good King received her with transports of joy, which would have been more prolonged if he had not perceived at his feet the young King of the Fortunate Islands, who embraced his knees. He quitted his daughter a moment to raise the handsome Coquerico. "I give you my daughter," said he to him, embracing him. "Receive her, my Lord, and live as happily as I have seen you miserable. I add my crown to this gift, and though I do not expect it will increase your happiness, judging by the vexations it has brought on me, still, such as it is, I give it to my daughter to present to you."
At this moment the King would have taken off his crown, but the young King cried, "No, sire, you shall not cease to reign: the charming, the tender Lionette fulfils all my wishes, and my crown is at her feet. Permit us to live with you, and let nothing separate us any more." Tigreline applauded this mark of generosity in King Coquerico; and taking Lionette by the hand, she presented her to him. He received her with transports of love more easily imagined than described. Then raising his crown, and placing one knee on the ground, he presented it to Lionette, who accepted it as she plighted her troth to him.
The Temple resounded with the nuptial hymn. It was only interrupted by Cornue, who uttered a piercing cry, and expired, it being her day of doom. Her death caused no extraordinary sensation. The young King and the Princess alone appeared affected by the result of her despair. Tigreline had her carried away, and the ceremony was concluded. King Coquerico then turning towards the King, his father-in-law, asked him if he wished to witness the coronation of the Queen Lionette, or if he would prefer waiting where he was for some days. "And I," said Lionette, "I would entreat a favour of the kind Tigreline, and of my dear husband, if I dare speak at this moment." "My dear Princess," replied the King, tenderly, "what do you fear?" "I would, then," said the Princess, "that, disembarrassed of the cares of government, we could live here always, and that, content with my happiness, I might be occupied with nothing but the pleasure of enjoying it. It is here that I have regained what is to me most valuable. What signifies to me the rest of the world if I live with these two persons; and if you, Madam," added she, addressing the Fairy, "deign to come and see me, and restore to me my two unfortunate guardians?" "I consent," said the two Kings at once. "Yes, my daughter," said the Fairy in her turn, "I approve of these noble sentiments, and you shall live here as a Queen, but without feeling the inconvenience of it. You shall both also enjoy the gift of fairydom. I bestow it on you."
Then touching the hedges that formed the walls of the temple, the whole structure was changed into a palace of emeralds so brilliant and so magnificent, that never was anything seen to equal it. The flowers became living and speaking persons, having as the sole mark of their transformation a flower of their name on the head. The greensward became a magnificent garden: on one side appeared a vast forest, at one end of which the Fairy caused to be built a little palace of rose-colour and white marble; and at the other, one of rock crystal, in which she had the kindness to place the fine model of the universe, which had been the delight of the King in his youth. The Princess was enchanted. "It is for me," said the King, "an inestimable gift--it will recall to me without ceasing the pleasure I have enjoyed in exploring it in search of my dear Princess." "And I," said she, "will hold it dear, because it has taught you that I was occupied with your memory."
The Fairy was charmed to see them so happy, with a degree of love so little known in our time or even in that at which they lived. "Love each other always thus, my children," said she, embracing them; "I can give you nothing preferable to that blessing; it is the only real happiness." She then made them observe that each palace had its separate gardens, its cascades, fountains, and charming flower-beds. On the other side of the garden was a large and flowing river, upon which were a thousand superb gondolas, silver and gris-de-lin, which wound round towards a castle built entirely of flowers, the marvellous variety of which had an admirable effect, and crowning the summit of a mountain with terraces laid out as gardens, descending to the brink of the river, and which served as a country house to the Palace of Emeralds. "I give you all this," said Tigreline, embracing Lionette; "live here, my children, millions of years; your subjects will love you, and never betray you. If you wish for more, a touch of this wand," said she, giving hers to Lionette, "will change all the flowers into speaking and rational beings, and they will become flowers again at your will."
The King and Lionette threw themselves at the feet of the Fairy, and thanked her heartily. She raised them, and again embraced them. "Wave your wand," said she to the Princess, "that your guardians may have the pleasure of being recalled by yourself." The beautiful Lionette quickly made this first trial of her power; the good people appeared immediately. She ran to embrace them, but they feared to receive her caresses; the beautiful Queen, however, pressed them to her heart so affectionately that they at length returned her embraces with a tenderness which drew tears from all beholders. The Queen seeing them so aged and decrepit, turned her beautiful eyes, full of tears, on the Fairy, who comprehended what she suffered. "I like to see so much sensibility, madam," said Tigreline; "use your power, you cannot employ it better than in the way you at present desire." She had not finished these words, when the old man and his wife appeared to be,--he a man of twenty years, and the old woman a girl of eighteen. They threw themselves at the feet of the Fairy, and kissed the hands of the Queen, who, delighted to see them so young and amiable, embraced the Fairy to thank her for this great favour.
The good King then addressed his daughter, who turned her eyes affectionately on him, "Do not confer on me the same gift, my dear daughter; I do not wish to possess second youth. I see you happy, that is the only thing which would affect me; I shall never be sensible of greater joy; leave to the gods the disposal of my days." "It is for me," said the Fairy, "to render them happy; you shall live, Sire, till you are sufficiently tired of life to wish to lose it. Adieu; my affairs compel me now to leave you, but I shall speedily see you again."
The Queen conducted the Fairy to her car, the two Kings handed her into it, after which they returned to the Palace, where, charmed with each other's society, they passed their golden days, more happy than they had ever been miserable. They lived millions of years, and the King and Queen presented the world with fairies and beneficent genii, who are at this moment actually occupied in promoting the happiness of the universe.